Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick (2010)

Book review: Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick (Mira Books, 2011 [2010])

One whisper of scandal and a reputation dies…

Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…

Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…

Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them – and their emotions – to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?

Beware of scandalous women…

Got this book in a giveaway on the author’s site (thanks, Nicola!) and from what I gather, it has only recently been released in the UK, but it was released last year in the US.

The novel follows Lady Joanna Ware, widow after an adventurer who wasn’t a good husband, and her husband’s adventuring friend Lord Alex Grant. They aren’t keen on each other, but of course, they sizzle whenever they’re together and inevitably realise that kissing one another is a good idea. Both have been left in charge of a young girl, Lord Ware’s illegitimate daughter in the Arctic, and I thought the novel was going to be about them travelling to Spitsbergen to fetch her back to England. Not quite so.

As it turned out, the novel is in two parts. Part one is in England, where they learn about their task and try to get hold of a ship and make travel preparations and so on. Get to know one another a little better. Part two is the journey to Spitsbergen.

Overall, I enjoyed Whisper of Scandal. With most of the Mills & Boon Historicals, you don’t get a lot of sex, and if you do, it’s perhaps only a little, when the intended two have got married – so I was quite surprised when there was more than that here. Not loads, obviously, but more than expected.

My biggest problem with the book was the heroine, Joanna, because I didn’t like her very much. She withheld important information (although, granted, as even Alex points out, she had her reasons) but not just that; she flitted too much between a decent person and a shallow twit, caring only about her wardrobe than anything else. Luckily, in comparison with her friend Lottie, she was a saint. Lottie is exactly the sort of person I can’t stand. What an awful person. Only out to see to her own pleasures. My favourite character is instead Joanna’s bookish sister (Merryn?), who only has a very small part. If there’s a forthcoming novel about her, I definitely want to read it.

As a romance goes, there’s nothing really new under the sun. The woman is feisty and independent, the hero is strong and handsome (and Scottish). The difference with this novel, though, is the arctic scenery. The author has actually been to Spitsbergen herself and can describe the landscape in detail, so it feels genuine. Through it all, the story is easy and quick to read, and sometimes a bit difficult to put down, and I love the ending. It’s inevitable how a romance novel will end, but it’s how you get there that matters, and Nicola Cornick brings us all on a very interesting journey.

3.9 because I like the writing and most things about it – it just gets -0.1 because I don’t much care for the somewhat whiny heroine.

Nicola Cornick has a website (with a blog) so you can get news and updates about her forthcoming books straight from the author herself and you can also follow her on Twitter (@NicolaCornick) or add her on Facebook!

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