Type: Historical Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
My Copy: Sent
In the social whirl of Regency England, Elizabeth Chudderley is at the top of every guest list, the life of every party, and the belle of every ball. But her friends and admirers would be stunned to know the truth: that the merriest widow in London is also the loneliest. Behind the gaiety and smiles lies a secret longing—for something, or someone, to whisk her away.
Raised in scandal, Lord Michael de Grey is convinced that love is a losing gamble—and seduction the only game worth playing. But when duty threatens to trump everything he desires, the only way out is marriage to a woman of his brother’s choosing. Elizabeth Chudderley is delightful, delicious—and distressingly attractive. With such a captivating opponent, Michael isn’t quite sure who is winning the game. How can such passionate players negotiate a marriage of necessity—when their hearts have needs of their own?
This was my first book by Meredith Duran. My initial impression was that she is a storyteller. This story was…. rich. No light, fluffy dialogue or shallow plot lines anywhere. That being said, I didn’t fall in love with the book, simply because of the way the author told the story.
Elizabeth is a lively widow who, by all appearances, lives her life on her own terms. Unfortunately for her, appearances are deceiving. She is practically destitute and becoming increasingly desperate for an advantageous marriage to rescue not only herself from her dwindling finances, but also her staff and her tenants who depend on her. Having been through a bad marriage and an even worse love affair, Elizabeth is understandably cautious and reluctant to tie herself to a man, even a rich one.
Enter Michael de Grey: nobleman extraordinaire, doctor and philanthropist. He spends his days tending to the poor at the hospital he founded. Unfortunately for him, his brother decides to take out his bitterness and self-pity over his own failed marriage on Michael. He threatens to shut down the hospital (he funds it) if Michael doesn’t find himself a suitable bride. He is a duke and thanks to his wife’s betrayal, he declares that Michael must be the one to provide an heir. Michael is smitten with Elizabeth from the minute he meets her, but the more he learns about her, the more he is convinced that his brother will NOT be.
Theirs was a love affair destined to fail. Elizabeth needs funds, Michael is a second son who works for his living. Michael needs a young, acceptable wife who will win his brother’s approval, Elizabeth is a poor widow whose past is mired in scandal. I really loved how what started out as an afternoon’s brief interlude turned into a full-blown romance, simply because their feelings were too strong to be denied. They found in each other a kindred soul and neither could resist falling in love. I also loved how, in the end, they both held their ground and stood up for their love, despite the obstacles.
What I didn’t love was Ms. Duran’s writing. It was extremely wordy and I found myself skipping parts and skimming the rest, wondering when I would get to the good stuff. It seemed like, for most of the book, nothing really happened. While Elizabeth wasn’t my favorite heroine, I absolutely adored Michael and thought this book could have been wonderful if the author had followed the edict “less is more”. Less internal dialogue (oftentimes repetitive) and fewer descriptive scenes would have made this more enjoyable. It is a lovely romance full of angst if you can actually get through it all!
I give That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran 3.5 stars.