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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: A Study in Scoundrels by Christy Carlyle

Excuse me while I execute a happy dance at having enjoyed a new-to-me author!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: April 11, 2017

Sophia Ruthven is the epitome of proper behavior. On paper at least, as long as that paper isn’t from one of the lady detective stories she secretly pens. She certainly isn’t interested in associating with the dashing Jasper Grey, the wayward heir to the Earl of Stanhope, and one of the stage’s leading men. But when she learns Grey’s younger sister Liddy has gone missing, she can’t deny her desire to solve the mystery…or her attraction to the incorrigible scoundrel.

Responsibility isn’t something Grey is very familiar with. On the boards and in the bedroom, he lives exactly how he wants to, shunning all the trappings of respectability and society. Grey knows he should avoid the bewitching Sophia, but he’s never been able to say no to what he wants. And having Sophia in his arms and his bed is quickly becoming the thing he wants the most.

As Sophia and Grey’s search for Liddy continues across the English countryside, can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken?

What’s it About? Super sensible Sophia spends her time doing research for her lady detective novels all while projecting an image of a proper lady. She doesn’t want anyone to tempt her into behaving scandalously, especially her brother’s friend Jasper Grey but when Grey’s sister Liddy goes missing, Sophia can’t resist the chance to help solve a real mystery. Even if it means spending a lot of time with Grey who has been avoiding his role as the Earl of Stanhope’s heir. Grey and Sophia end up tracking Liddy all over the countryside and in the process Grey starts falling for Sophia but his demons and her desire for a good marriage are keeping him from doing anything other than setting them both up for heartbreak.

Overall reaction to the story? Christy Carlyle has a new fan in me! A Study in Scoundrels is a lush, inviting story that swept me away from the very first page! Grey and Sophia were at first glance, total opposites but by the end I couldn’t imagine them with anyone else. My only complaint was that I didn’t feel Grey really faced his guilt and grief over what happened in the past. It was such a strong factor in who he was as an adult that it shouldn’t have been essentially swept under the rug the way it was. That big of a personal conflict should have been addressed before the end.

Describe the hero in five words: Troubled. Intelligent. Caring. Stubborn. Reluctant.
Did you like him? Yes.
Why? Grey was so torn up about how he came to be the heir to the Earl of Stanhope that it shaped who he became as a man and what he did in his day to day life. His traumatic experience did bring me to tears which isn’t easy to do. I was so heartbroken for this character that I was ready to forgive him for any wild behavior. He was such a tragic figure, carrying around so much grief and guilt that it was slowly crushing him. Ugh, just thinking about it has me wanting to cry for this guy all over again. Grey wasn’t the scoundrel everyone thought he was either. He was surprisingly caring and didn’t take advantage of anyone who couldn’t fight back. I loved that about him! He was suffering but he refused to make anyone else suffer.

Describe the heroine in five words: Clever. Kind. Curious. Determined. Talented.
Did you like her? Yes.
Why? Sophia wasn’t a character who faded into the wallpaper in a room. She wasn’t over the top or obvious in her behavior but she was a strong woman. She would have to be in order to be a writer of lady detective novels in that era. My favorite things about her were her curious mind and her kind heart, no matter what Sophia wanted to help anyone that was hurting, including Grey. Against her better judgment she wants to help him and his sister Liddy. Sophia had a hidden sense of humor and a dash of sass in her too and that made an already likable character even better to me. She wasn’t a silly little girl; she was a grown woman who was just open and practical about the world around her. She was refreshing.

Let’s talk about the romance: I’m not really one for slow burn romances because there’s usually a lot of “filler scenes” that are unnecessary but that wasn’t the case in A Study in Scoundrels. Christy Carlyle’s inclusion of Grey’s missing sister provided two things: An adventure, and more time for a convincing romance to build. There was already a strong physical attraction between Grey and Sophia but Carlyle was meticulous in making sure there was an equally strong emotional connection as well. One that was completely believable.

How about that supporting cast? There aren’t many side characters but a few do make appearances. Sophia’s brother and his wife make brief appearances as do a handful of others but it was Grey’s sister Liddy who had the most page time after the two leads. I found her silly and immature and a number of times she got on my nerves. Maybe it was because she was so young but she pulled a pretty stupid stunt in a fit of childish “love” that should have gotten her into more trouble than it did.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Christy Carlyle’s style of writing is infectious in the best sort of way! A Study in Scoundrels was so enjoyable I quickly bought the first book in the series.

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