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A Scandalous Secret
By Beth Andrews

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A Scandalous Secret

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A Scandalous Secret
By Beth Andrews
Chivers Large Print: Bath, UK (2004)
ISBN: 1-4056-3023-X.
Also available from:
Throndike Press Large Print: Waterville, Maine (2004)
ISBN: 0-7862-6728-3
Genre: Fiction - Regency Romance

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 30, 2006

Eight years ago, the Countess of Dansmere committed an unforgivable indiscretion in the eyes of the Church, and in the eyes of her peers. Luckily for Elizabeth, her secret has remained hidden low these many years. The only outward reminder of her deed can be seen in the visage of her son, who bears little resemblance to her late husband. She has not found widowhood onerous, with the exception that her dear sister, Dorinda 'Dorrie', the Lady Barrowe, has made it her task in life to find Elizabeth a new husband. Most of the year, Elizabeth can ignore Dorrie's matchmaking attempts. However, once a year Elizabeth and her vivacious son, Nicolas 'Nicky' travel to Merrywood, the Barrowe estate, to spend a few months visiting with Dorrie and her family. During this period, Dorrie's matchmaking tends to take on a fevered pitch.

A Scandalous Secret, by Beth Andrews begins in the year 1818 and is set in Salisbury, England. This year's visit to Merrywood is to have an unexpected outcome for the Countess of Dansmere and her young son. This year, when Elizabeth and Nicky arrive at Merrywood, they find an unwelcome surprise. Dorrie, in her zeal, has invited the overbearing and arrogant Lord Oswald Gulbridge, Viscount Maples, to be a houseguest because she has heard rumors that Gulbridge is set upon marrying Elizabeth. This is true, but both Elizabeth and Nicky despise the handsome man, which has done nothing to dissuade him from continuing his courtship. If this were not bad enough, shortly after arriving at Merrywood, Elizabeth meets the new owner of Lammerton Hall, a nearby estate. The owner is none other than Dominick Markham, a wealthy and extremely handsome merchant that just happened to have met Elizabeth once before when he was but a lowly clerk.

Markham represents a potential danger to Elizabeth, as he is privy to her secret. More important, he thinks that she wronged him in the past and is bent upon getting his revenge upon a lady whom he thinks of as a snobbish aristocrat. For her part, Elizabeth would let Markham do his worse, but by revealing her secret, he would be harming her son and that is something that she would never allow to happen. To compound the problem, it soon becomes apparent to Elizabeth that she has strong feeling for Markham, feelings that may not be reciprocated.

A Scandalous Secret is a Late Georgian / Regency Romance, and like the books by Jane Austen, you will find doses of humor and romance throughout the story, but no sex or other adult material. Elizabeth, Countess of Dansmere is a charming heroine, and as her history emerges during the course of the story, you feel both sympathy and admiration for her. Gulbridge is a boorish oaf, who simply expects every woman who crosses his path to swoon at his feet. While Markham is kind and charming, albeit a bit strong headed when it comes to certain subjects. These three characters serve as the main focus of the story. However, their interactions are interwoven with several subplots that add both color and flavor to the story. I don't want to spoil your fun by giving away too much of the story, so let me just say that A Scandalous Secret is a delightful romance that will keep you guessing until the very end just how the author will manage to finagle a happy ending for Elizabeth and her son, especially after a series of misunderstanding seem to derail their chances at happiness. A great love story!

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