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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ARC Review: Scandalous Summer Nights by Anne Barton

Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: October 28, 2014


Lady Olivia Sherbourne isn't shy about speaking her mind, except when it comes to James Averill. For ten long years he has been her brother's best friend and her heart's only desire. But when Olivia hears James will soon set sail for an expedition to Egypt, she knows the time has come to make her move. It's now or never . . .

James has always found Olivia bewitchingly attractive, but what kind of gentleman takes up with his best friend's sister? Not that he's thinking particularly gentlemanly thoughts when she appears on his exploratory trip-three hundred miles from home!-and incites a tavern fight. No matter what the devil she's doing there, it's his duty to see her safely back to her family. But how safe will she be when every starlit night brings wicked temptation . 

Why have I not heard of Anne Barton before?!

Lady Olivia Sherbourne’s childhood crush on her brother’s friend has grown into a full blown infatuation that she can no longer ignore. She’s tried flirting, getting him alone and dropping massive hints, all in an effort to get him to see her as a woman. When she finds out he’s going on a two year expedition to Egypt, Olivia decides to take drastic measures, with drastic consequences.

Solicitor James Averill’s dream of going on an expedition to Egypt is finally within his grasp; all he has to do is tie up a few loose ends before his trip. He definitely does not need to be noticing his closest friend’s sister. Thinking that all he has to do to forget Olivia is leave for his exploratory trip three hundred miles away, James puts the lady out of his mind, until she shows up unannounced and starts a tavern brawl! Firmly set on escorting her home, James tries his best to resist the temptation Olivia presents even as Olivia sets out to show him why he should think twice about walking away from her.

I loved this story! I’ve become more and more picky with the historical romances that I read, especially with the heroines. It’s such a fine line between being somewhat historically accurate and having a heroine who is little more than a door mat or arm candy. Olivia was neither but I wasn’t always so sure about her. For the first few chapters I went from chuckling at her plucky attitude to cringing at her selfish and childish ideas. I was worried that Olivia was destined to be this spoiled, selfish, immature brat of a heroine that only saw things through rose colored glasses instead of how they really were. However, after some stern and truthful words from James after she pulls a particularly stupid stunt for which she refused to take responsibility, Olivia started to use her brain for something other than half witted schemes that were reserved more for little girls. Olivia proved herself to be quite intelligent and strong after that.

Truth be told though, I identified more with James. I understood how badly he wanted to go to Egypt and why and I felt the same disappointment mixed with anger and resentment when that dream was in danger of being taken away by someone else. I’ve never been a fan of manipulation, no matter if it’s disguised as love. I was a little put off by the fact James’ lifelong dream of going to Egypt was put in jeopardy all because Olivia decided she wanted a him as a husband. He hadn’t even considered Olivia as a wife in the beginning of Scandalous Summer Nights and it was because of Olivia’s constant presence in his day to day activities that caused him to risk what he had wanted. Yes, dreams and goals do change sometimes but I just felt that it should have been 100% up to James to make that choice, not have someone else interfere and all but steal it away with her impetuous nature.

Aside from a few issues with the heroine, I enjoyed Scandalous Summer Nights. I started off being uneasy about Olivia’s maturity level and intelligence but author Anne Barton didn’t waste time in giving her a reality check. James’ love of Egypt and its ancient history was what got me to bond with him. I understood his fascination and thirst for knowledge of the past. He was a kind, funny and protective character. Interestingly enough, I noticed that secondary characters didn’t play too much into the story. Scandalous Summer Nights pretty much isolated James and Olivia through most of the story in order to give them time to really get to know one another.

Final Verdict: Anne Barton is a lovely addition to my "Catch Up" list, and as soon as I can, I'll be purchasing her previous books. 

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