My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Studies in Scandal #4
Publication Date: 6/26/18
I have been on pins and needles waiting for this book ever since Cam and Gemma met in the last book. WOW! What fireworks between them – it was an epic battle – he was rude, abrupt and condescending and she was highly insulted and stubborn. Oil and water – they just don’t mix. But you knew that they would and it was so much fun to see them blend together so seamlessly. No, it wasn’t easy, but they did it.
The book is a fun read with fun characters and, I hope, the epilogue left a tiny crack for further books in the series or perhaps a new series with Special Appearances by the characters from this series. I’d love to see Lady Serena get her HEA. Did we maybe see a set-up for that? Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see what Ms. Collins decides to do.
In case you don’t know the premise behind the series, I’ll give you the short version. In her will, Lady Celeste Beauchamp chose four young ladies for their intellectual capabilities to spend a year in residence at her house, Beauchamp House. It boasted one of the most impressive libraries in England, a much-envied fossil collection, painting studio, etc. Each young lady was given complete freedom and the tools to continue her education in her chosen field. Each young lady was also bequeathed a letter and a task/puzzle from Lady Celeste. At the end of the year, any young lady who was still unmarried and still living in the house would inherit the entire estate. If all of them married or if all of them remained unmarried, then they would all share the inheritance equally. The first three books saw Ivy (classics scholar), Daphne (mathematician), and Sophia (painter) solve their puzzles and find their HEA. This book deals with Gemma Hastings, a geologist, and sister to Sophia.
What an exciting beginning – Gemma is a bit of an insomniac and she’s gotten up in the wee hours of the morning and crept from her bedchamber to go on a midnight ramble about the house. Outside, she sees what appears to be a lantern bobbing along in the night. Heedless of the consequences, she dashes out to confront whoever is on their private property. As she observes, she sees that it is her brother-in-law – Lord Cameron Lisle. Cam’s brother is married to Gemma’s sister Sophia, but Gemma doesn’t like him even a little bit and is indignant that he’s roaming around on their property. After she calls out to him, and he shushes her, she realizes that there is someone else with another lantern further ahead of Cam. Cam is exasperated that Gemma has alerted the man he was following and who has now disappeared. What was Sir Everard Healy doing on that beach? Now, neither Cam nor Gemma would learn any time soon.
A couple of days later, Sir Everard is found dead at the base of the cliffs below Beauchamp House. He was murdered while trying to steal a geological find of Gemma’s. Gemma didn’t murder him, Cam didn’t murder him – so, who did and are they still skulking around? Gemma’s artifact is missing, so whoever murdered Sir Everard stole the artifact. Cam and Gemma must work together to find the artifact and also solve the murder. Of course, as they work together, they are attracted to each other and that grows – until they are discovered in a compromising position and have to become betrothed.
Somehow, between compromising positions, ‘temporary’ betrothals, unchaperoned road trips, pretending to be married and spending the night together at an inn as man and wife, they manage to solve the murder and find the artifact.
It was a lovely, interesting, well-written read and I’m sorry to see the series end. However, it did have a lovely epilogue with future plans for Beauchamp house and Lady Serena. So, that is what gives me hope that we might get to visit with all of these lovely ladies in a future series or additional books in this series.
I have seen several two and three-star reviews for this book and they all talk about the same issues. I actually agree with much of what they say, but I just thought the book, as a whole, was good enough that it offset those issues for me. The first thing is that there weren’t enough fireworks between Gemma and Cam given the argument from the previous book and Gemma’s continued dislike of Cam. I would have liked to see a few more epic battles before they came to a meeting in the middle. The second was the lack of character development for Gemma and Cam. I thought Cam grew and changed a lot – he actually did most of the changing and adapting to Gemma’s ways rather than the other way around. However, Gemma did grow and she had to learn that she could have love and her choice of vocation IF she chose the right man.
This was a delightful read and I didn’t want to put it down once I’d read the first page. Well, actually, I didn’t put it down — I read it straight through and enjoyed every minute of it.
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