Gwilym, Earl of Banallt, has quite a reputation of being a womanizer and a rake. Scandal follows him wherever he goes. Women practically fall at his feet, except for the one woman who has become an obsession. Sophie Evans, a widow he first fell in love with, while her husband was still alive. Tommy Evans married Sophie for her fortune, and left her in the country while he continued his debauched lifestyle in London. Banallt was one of Tommy’s friends who joined him as he cut a path through London. The few times when Tommy would return home to see his wife, Banallt was with him, and the moment he met Sophie, his heart was hers forever. Banallt and Sophie formed a tentative friendship even after he tried to seduce her. Banallt shared so many things with Sophie and was ready to whisk her away to be his mistress. Sophie denied him and remained faithful to her marriage vows even when her husband did not. After her husband died she wanted nothing more to do with Banallt. Now over a year later, he has returned and will make Sophie his wife and this time he won’t be denied.
When Sophie sees Banallt with her brother, Mercer, she is shocked and scared. She and Banallt have quite the past and she refuses to be one of the many women he uses and discards. Her marriage left her emotionally scarred; she was so in love with her husband, and he in turn did the worst possible thing a husband can do to his wife, he broke his marriage vows. Sophie will never marry again and definitely not to Banallt. But Banallt won’t let her be. Although she wants his friendship, it is too much of a temptation for her. And though Banallt says he has changed, Sophie cannot trust him with her heart. She would be destroyed if she fell for another man who would not be faithful to her. And since Banallt is so much like her dead husband in that respect, she won’t give herself to him even though she craves him with every sense of her being.
Banallt knows he must treat Sophie with tenderness and respect and show her he has changed, otherwise she will never accept him. Very slowly, he is able to break through Sophie’s defenses. She reaches a point where she wants him in her life even though she won’t admit her feelings to him. Suddenly, a horrible tragedy happens to Sophie and she has no where else to turn to except to Banallt. This is Banallt’s chance to have everything he has ever wanted. He longs to hear Sophie say that she loves him as much as he loves her. The question is, will Sophie be able to give Banallt what he wants?
WOW. Simply, wow. That is the only word I can use to describe this masterpiece. It has been such a long time since I have read such a rich, emotional and tension filled romance. Not only did Scandal have me hooked from the very first page, but this is the first book, in a very long time, where I had to read straight through into the wee hours of the night because I couldn’t put it down. When an author can write such a book, that book is destined for greatness. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scandal becomes one of the favorites of 2009, and perhaps placed on most reader’s lists for all time favorite historical.
Both Banallt and Sophie are very complex characters who have such intense feelings for one another. What I loved most about Banallt, is the way he sees Sophie. She is known as not being a great beauty, rather petite and very plain looking, but because Banallt has such intense feelings for her, he thinks she is the most gorgeous woman he has ever known. There were times I expected him to fall on his knees before Sophie and kiss her feet because he adores her so. The one thing that makes Banallt so different from other rogues is the deep respect he has for Sophie. Not only does he cherish her body, but also her mind. Their conversations and discussions are when he first fell in love with her. Sophie also respects Banallt and truly does care for him, but she can’t get passed her own bias towards men who are unfaithful, she places Banallt in that category, because he too was married, and cheated on his own deceased wife.
Usually I tend to look down upon a hero that has so many lovers they’re tripping over one another. But the way Carolyn has written Banallt, and they way he treats Sophie and his feelings for her, I couldn’t help but feel for him, especially when it came to claiming Sophie. And when Sophie allows him to, you may just break down in tears.
Scandal is a must read book that should not be passed by. Carolyn Jewel has written a mature and emotional romance that has everything from passion, love and most importantly respect. The respect that a man and woman can have for one another.