A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL – Ashlyn Macnamara
London, April 1816
The ambitious St. Claires dwell on the fringes of Society. They have few assets, the most valuable of which are their daughters. After selling their country estate to finance Seasons in Town, Mrs. St. Claire is getting frantic. Their beautiful and sweet elder daughter, Sophia, has been out five years and still hasn't brought home the title and fortune needed to satisfy her mother's thirst for a higher social standing. Why? Because for all of those years her heart has belonged to one man, William Ludlowe, a handsome man about town who enjoys the favors of many women. The younger St. Claire daughter, Julia, is herself loath to marry after watching the heartbreak love has brought her sister and many others she has observed. She has turned down several proposals.
Former cavalry officer Benedict Revelstoke, younger brother of a marquess, came to town to buy breeding stock to build up his estate. He has no plans to attend any doings of the ton . But he sees the name of a childhood friend in the betting book at his club. William Ludlowe wagers five thousand pounds he will wed Julia St. Claire. Benedict attends a ball to find Julia and warn her against the man.
Urged on by his bossy elder sister, Rufus Shelbourne, the widowed Earl of Highgate attends the same ball where, through no fault of their own, he and Sophia land in a compromising situation made worse by three people with selfish motives of their own. Meanwhile, Ludlowe, who, by the way, is suddenly heir to an earldom and now ready to wed, pursues Julia—we can only wonder why he persists in the face of her reluctance; she has no dowry. This time it's Mr. St. Claire who uses Julia for his own ends and leaves her little choice. If she goes along with his plans and accepts Ludlowe, she'll hurt her sister and make a loathsome marriage, but she'll save her unworthy parents. Her old friend Benedict is the only one she can turn to.
A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL is rife with interesting characters good, bad, and not so nice. Fortunately, we seem to have two likely heroes and two likable heroines if only the pairs can get together and realize what they have in each other.
There is plenty of action and turmoil in A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL, and it's an emotional ride—an excellent debut novel for Ms. Macnamara. It will be followed by a sequel, A MOST DEVILISH ROGUE, sometime next summer.