9 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways

Book Review and Giveaway: Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

Title: Scandal

Author: Carolyn Jewel

Genre: Historical Romance


Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publishing Date: February 3, 2009
Paperback: 320 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone

Why did I read this novel: I got one copy from Katiebabs who highly recommended it. I got another copy from my contact at the publishers. The only thing I have to say to both of them is: THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Summary: The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction– she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever– and for more than an illicit affair.
Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage– her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she’s always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt’s seduction– or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs… .


I am at heart, a simple person. I can fully appreciate intricate and complex stories, especially when it comes to fantasy/paranormal books but with regards to romance, especially historical novels, the simpler the better. Scandal is one such book, in which a man falls madly, intensely, completely in love with a woman – over the years, no less, slowly progressing from lust to friendship to a love that shapes the man that he becomes.

And here I stand: madly, intensely, completely in love with this book – to say that if you are a romance reader and if you have a preference for historical novels with a hero to die for, you should get this book as soon as you possibly can. Now, let’s get to the review:

“The First Thing Gwilym, Earl of Banallt, Noticed when he rounded the drive was Sophie perched on the ledge of a low fountain. Surely, he thought, some other explanation existed for the hard, slow thud of his heart against his ribs. After all, he hadn’t seen her in well over a year, and they had not parted on the best of terms. He ought to be over her by now. And yet the jolt of seeing her again shot straight through to his soul.
He was dismayed beyond words”

Thus, Carolyn Jewel opens her novel: this sentence is the very first of the book. This is how we are introduced to the Earl of Banallt with the first chapter being from his point of view as he walks back into the life of Sophie Evans, the woman he loves and has loved for years.

This first chapter encompasses everything we need to know about their story: that they met a number of times over the years, that they both used to be married and are now both widowed, that Sophie was married to a no-gooder of a husband, Tommy Evans who spent his time whoring and gambling while she wasted away in the country and when he died he left her destitute and that now she lives with her brother John; that the Earl of Banallt was his closest chap and the man Tommy aspired to be and that somehow Sophie and Banallt became friends until something happened that made him go to Paris. Now , he is back to ask her to marry him. To which she says no: she can never., ever trust Banallt. Her heart has been broken by her scoundrel of a husband and she, quite understandably, cannot allow that to happen again, because we are talking about real misery and unhappiness here.

And this is basically the conflict in Scandal: at one side, the Earl of Banallt who, we the readers KNOW from the get go is a reformed rake, who adores Sophie and wants to marry her and is prepared to keep his vows this time, trying to convince her that he is changed. And then, Sophie who has absolutely no way of believing this, given his past, her past and the scandals that surround both of them.

But there is so much more. There are so many things that are so GOOD about this book, I don’t even know where to begin. The mere fact that it opens with an already reformed rake – and reformed rake stories are admittedly my favourite romance trope – gives me the warm fuzzies from page one. I am reading the first page and I KNOW.

Then, the format itself hits all the right notes, as the writer alternates between the present with Banallt’s attempts at wooing Sophie and Sophie’s other prospective suitors (yes, there are others on the run, as there are other on the run for Banallt as well – not that he wants it) and the past with their encounters over the years .We learn what happened between them, and we have a measure of Banallt’s past as a rake, a walking scandal who had more lovers than he could count and who cared nothing for his wedding vows even though he loved his wife and his daughter. A man who one day accompanied his friend Tommy to his country home and met his wife Sophie and became intrigued with her against all odds – she is nothing like his expectations or anything like the women he has ever liked. He at first, wants her because he simply desires her. Then because he admires her and then because he loves her. They become friends as he continues to visit – he keeps on trying to become her lover but she never gives in – Sophie truly loves her husband, even if part of her wonders about Banallt (and who wouldn’t, really) . Until tragedy strikes, Banallt does something hurtful and they are apart until they are free (not for very long though and nothing in the book proper, thank very much).

And this is another thing of note: the author does not shy away from true tragedy. People hit rock bottom so that they can emerge from ashes. From them main characters to the secondary ones. There is even the required secondary love story but when I thought the author was going in one direction she did something that left me awestruck and completely surprised. Kudos to Carolyn Jewel for having guts.

Then there is a historical context that plays an important role in the novel: Napoleon has escaped Elba and is going to Paris and all the men including Banallt are worried about the events to come and what would happen. I admired the way the author incorporated this important event to the happenings of the book all around and to the resolution of the novel in particular – it added verisimilitude and a realistically tone to the proceedings.

But if you want a sprinkle of fairy tale, you will also find it: what about the fact that Sophie has dreamt since she was little about the Earl of Banallt and his castle (who was near her childhood property) and that he was her knight in shining armour. She then fell in love with Tommy Evans , eloped with him and then one day, the Earl of Banallt walks into her life. Spooky. Plus, Sophie has always had a creative mind, and because of that she was able to write sensation novels which were what kept her and her husband afloat when he was spending money right and left in London. It was her secret and one she shared only with Banallt, who destiny has it, was already a fan before meeting her.

Is the book perfect? Nope. The annoying, cynical part of my brain kept telling me that they could have been together sooner had Banallt been a bit more insistent or had Sophie listened to her own heart. I also wanted to know more about how exactly did Sophie get published and how did her husband never asked where their money came from but now this is me, being anal.

What I like the most about reformed rake stories is that generally speaking a rake is a man that has everything: power, money, women, a title, beauty, freedom, living the high life. Then there comes one woman and he is suddenly, completely power-less. His happiness hangs in the balance of one word: yes.

In Scandal, Sophie is left destitute twice (I will not elaborate on that, as it contains more spoilers that I should give) hence being completely powerless when it came to her life, her means of bare survival. So, even though at times I may have been impatient with her for her inability to see past her prejudice again Banallt , I also understood that the ONLY power and the ONLY control that she did have was of her own heart – and having Banallt’s heart twisted even more by protecting herself.

In the end, Sophie needs to relinquish this control, and realise that this power she has struggled to maintain over her own feelings is keeping herself prisoner of the past. And by doing so, she has much more to gain than to lose. And when she does so…..it is beautiful.

Scandal is already shortlisted for my top 10 of 2009.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: A quote from the first chapter – a taste of Banallt’s thoughts:

“She was still dainty. Still slender. Still with eyes that made a man think of nothing but looking into them a moment longer . Still wary and reserved. He knew her as he had never come to know any other woman. He knew she longed for love and that her life up to now had not been one to make her think she would ever have it. He still wanted to take her into his his arms and swear she would never want for anything again. “

Verdict: I am in love with this book. Simple as that.

Rating: 9. Damn near Perfection



I have one copy of Scandal to giveaway – I like it so much, I need to spread the love. The contest is open to everyone and will run until Sunday February 8th at Noon (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment saying who is your favourite reformed rake? (mine is easy: Sebastian St Vincent from Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. )

Good luck!

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  • katiebabs
    February 6, 2009 at 5:23 am

    I loved how Banallt and Sophie’s relationship wasn’t just lust at first side, well more from Banallt, but they grew as friends. Sophie’s feelings were so real and sticks a knife in your heart because of her rat bastard of a husband.
    Scandal is now one of my all time favorite historicals. This is one of the must read books this year.
    Excellent review like always my Snuggle friend.

  • KMont
    February 6, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Sounds good! Enter me in the contest, please. I’m on a rabid fantasy kick ATM, but I am feeling need for some good historical romance too.

    Fave reformed rake? You stole mine lol. Sebastian St. Vincent is a great one. I love his and Evie’s relationship; the shy heroine and hardened hero, how she finally begins to take back her life in the form of an alliance with him. Love those types of romances.

  • Carmen
    February 6, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Does the reformed rake have to be from a book? My favorite is Angel, from the Buffy series. He’s in comics now, so I suppose he’s from a book. 🙂

  • Ana
    February 6, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Katie, I get all tingly inside when I think of Scandal…I truly loved it! Thanks for the spot on recommendation. You were right, as usual.

    Kmont: Done. St Vincent is MINES. 😈

    Carmen: 😯 Of course, Angel is a rake isn’t he? or used to be when he was Angelus….never thought of him like that. Great choice.

  • Ruth
    February 6, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Thanks for the opportunity to read this book…I love Sebastian Ballister and his insecurities that made hims such a rake.

  • Lori
    February 6, 2009 at 8:05 am

    if you are a romance reader and if you have a preference for historical novels with a hero to die for
    Oh wow – this is me!!! So even if I don’t win, I’ll be putting this on my list asap. Great review!!

    Wow, so many rakes, so little time…
    Yes, St. Vincent is great, as is Dain. Both great examples for sure! One of my favorites is actually Damien Sinclair, from an old one of Nicole Jordan’s – The Seduction. Great book!

  • JenB
    February 6, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Wow, another gushing review. This must be quite a book! 🙂

    Hmmm…I think my favorite reformed rake is probably Heath Boscastle from Wedding Night of an English Rogue by Jillian Hunter. I love him. Or maybe Jeremy Malory from A Loving Scoundrel by Johanna Lindsey. Can I choose both of them? 😀

  • azteclady
    February 6, 2009 at 8:44 am


    And hellz yeah, he was the rake to define all rakes. What’s that Eve said to him? “Is there any woman you know you haven’t slept with” or some such.

  • Lori Ann
    February 6, 2009 at 9:47 am

    My favorite reformed rake is the Marquis of St. Aubyn from London’s Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch. It has been several years since I last read this book, but Saint stands out in my mind as one of the most delicious rakes I have ever read. He is definitely a bad boy, and when he falls for Evie it is great. 🙂

  • Peta
    February 6, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Sounds delicious! Count me in!

    Hrm. Not sure if this is a favourite all-time reformed rake but thinking about reformed rakes I have adored, made me think of Georgette Heyer’s books and that took me onto the hero of Devil’s Cub. Dominic the Marquis of Vidal (the name in itself is almost enough to swing his nomination) is amusing, debauched and delightfully in love. Hurrah for historical romance!

  • Pam P
    February 6, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Oh yes, St. Aubyn, Lori, he’s a favorite of mine, too,so very bad and selfish, until Evie makes him see what he’s become.

    I’m so glad to see such a great review for this book, I’ve been waiting for a new historical from Carolyn for so long.

  • cheryl c.
    February 6, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Wow, this book sounds wonderful! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    I have to agree with you about St. Vincent. Like Evie said…he reformed just enough! 😉

  • Marie
    February 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Great giveaway!
    My favorite is Nicholas Blackthorne from A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart.

  • Lori
    February 6, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Oooh, Saint and Heath are two awesome reformed rakes!! So true! Loved both those books.

  • Leslie
    February 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Great review! Another Kleypas rake turned hero is my fav Nick Gentry from Worth Any Price. Also an old favorite is James Malory from Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue.

  • Karin
    February 6, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I have to go with Heath Boscastle from Jillian Hunter’s The Wedding Night of an English Rogue as my favorite reformed rake. Though I love James Malory (and all of the Malorys), there’s just something about Heath that gives him an edge over all others.

  • Renee
    February 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Yeah, St Vincent is the reformed rake that is top on my list, though Dain from Lord of Scoundrels is on my mind, too, since I just finished reading it!

  • Sandy M
    February 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Wow, this book sounds simply wonderful! I’d have to say my favorite reformed rake is Heath Boscastle from Jillian Hunter’s Wedding Night of an English Rogue. Just love him!

  • Laurie
    February 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Lord Waverly in Sheri Cobb South’s French Leave!

    I would say Tracy from Black Moth by Heyer, but he wasn’t really reformed.

  • Kammie
    February 6, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Sebastian from Devil in Winter and Devil Cynster from Devil’s Bride are at the top of my list. Oh, and Roarke, but I think he’s still a bit of a rake. lol

  • Sarah
    February 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    In a more contemporary setting, one of my favorite rakes or playboys would have to be Bobby Tom Denton From SEP’s Heaven, Texas. In a historical setting, I really like the Duke of Somerset from Victoria Dahl’s A Rake’s guide to Pleasure.

  • katayoun
    February 7, 2009 at 12:37 am

    i love heyer’s, vidal in “Devil’s Cub” (though really all heyer’s are perfect!)

  • Maya M.
    February 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I don’t remember a historical since Joana Bourne’s and Sherry Thomas’ debut.

    my eternal favorite: Rupert Carsington

  • Maya M.
    February 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    sigh. i should review comments before posting. There’s a “…getting so much love…” missing in my post above.

  • Marg
    February 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    St Vincent is one of my favourites, but I will go with either Lucien from Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley, or another Sebastian, this time from Eloisa James Duchess Quartet. I didn’t particularly like the main couples in the first three books, but I did love the secondary romance that threaded through the books featuring Sebastian and Esme.

  • Andrea2
    February 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Please count me in for this drawing.
    My favorite rake: Reginal Davenport from The Rake and the Reformer by Mary Jo Putney (later expanded and reissued as The Rake). Sebastian St. Vincent is a close second.

  • orannia
    February 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Great review Ana! I keep hearing such great things about this book.

    Hmmm – I agree with those who mentioned Sebastian St Vincent and Devil Cynster (oh, and great call Andrea on Reggie from The Rake and the Reformer – I LOVED that book), but the rake for me has to be Julian, Marquess of Brandon from Loretta Chase’s Knave’s Wager 🙂

  • aaj
    February 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Um, I’m also madly in love with St. Vincent. The Devil in Winter is one of my all time faves.

    I’m also really looking forward to the Duke of Villiers’s book, from Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses series. I think he’s just fascinating and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him.

  • willaful
    February 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I adore Gideon from Anne Gracie’s The Perfect Rake but honestly, despite the title, I never believe in his rakishness all that much. 🙂 So I’m going to vote for the adorably flawed Bentley (“Hell-Bent”) Rutledge from Liz Carlyle’s books. I literally have kept A Woman of Virtue only because he has a few brief scenes in it!

    (I don’t know if Nick Gently counts as a rake, seeing as he only has had sex with one woman before the heroine…? )

  • msaggie
    February 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Please count me in for the giveaway too. Your review was fabulous, and now I really would love to read Scandal. My favourite reformed rake (or rather reformed person) is Sebastian in Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold.

  • Robyn Brodrick
    February 8, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Sebastian St. Vincent of course, closely followed by the Duke of Villers (from the Desperate Duchesses series). Great review! 😀

  • Ana
    February 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    The contest is now closed. Thanks for all the comments! 😀

  • veedee
    February 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Same here… Marquis of St. Aubyn from London’s Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch

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