Monday, July 25, 2016

ARC Review: His Scandalous Kiss by Sophie Barnes

Series:     Thorncliff Manor #3
Pub. Date:July 26, 2016
Length:384 pages

House parties and matchmaking abound at Thorncliff Manor, where its guests inevitably find themselves embroiled in a search for evidence of a secret societies. This story is follows the same vein, but gives us new and unique characters to refresh a familiar plot line.

Five years ago Richard Heartly came home from fighting the war against France a different man. In his mind, he was so changed that he thought it better if society continued to think he was dead, so he has been living as a celibate hermit. He even refuses to see his family except for his father and brother, Spencer (from Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires). Richard has come to Thorncliff with his family, but he stays hidden away in his room. He finally ventures on the night of a masquerade as a favor to Lady Duncaster, the eccentric widow and owner of Thorncliff Manor. That is where he sees an enchanting lady in disguise.

Lady Mary Cartwright intends to avoid marriage as she doesn't believe a husband would allow her to continue her secret hobby/profession. She has also been helping her ne'er do well brother, Lord Cartwright, who seems to be gambling his inheritance away. Unfortunately for Mary, her aunt is determined to marry her off before they leave Thorncliff, and said aunt does not approve of the mysterious masked man at the masquerade.

I enjoyed watching Richard and Mary get to know one another, particularly as Richard stayed masked so Mary was forced to get to know him as a person without being distracted by his good looks (or lack thereof). I think wearing the mask also helped Richard to relax and be himself with Mary instead of being self-concious about his scars. Richard is one of my favorite types of heroes - a little broken and broody, but he's just waiting for that one person who can draw him out of his comfort zone to see that life is worth living. This is a clean romance, so don't expect more than kisses to be traded between our characters. 

There are a couple of side plots going involving Richard's vengeance and the secrets at Thorncliff. Richard's vengeance became predictable as we read, but I don't think that detracted from the plot. We could see the obstacle coming and the dread added an anxiety element to the reading experience. The exploration of Thorncliff and its secrets in this installment was really cool. I don't want to say anything about it because I think its best discovered by the individual... but I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. I do wish that it would have been tied in better with the previous stories, but it was entertaining all the same.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

Thorncliff Manor