His Study in Scandal by Megan Frampton
Tracy’s rating: 2.5/3 of 5 stars
Series: A School for Scoundrels, #2
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Alexandra “Alex”, the widowed Duchess of Chelmsworth is finally done with mourning and is more than ready to move on with her life. At 40, she is free for the first time in her life and is looking forward to enjoying that freedom, starting with destroying her widow’s weeds and attending a pleasure garden with her stepdaughter, Edith. She plans to find out what she has been missing before she slides into her role of chaperone for her daughter Harriet’s debut. And boy does she ever find pleasure! But all good things must end and Alex leaves her lover’s embrace, planning to never return. The next day her step-son William, the new Duke tells her that he has made arrangements for Harriet to marry a wealthy merchant who is looking to elevate his social status, and since the dukedom is in dire need of funds, he expects Alex to convince Harriet to marry him as quickly as possible and if she refuses, he will cut them off without a penny. Alex is not happy with this turn of events and is downright mortified when she learns her mystery lover is the man William expects Harriet to wed. Could things get any worse? Why, yes they can and they do…
Theodore “Theo” Osborne was adopted as a child by Mr. Osborne and learned a lot from his adoptive father, but it was his friends, the “Bastard Five” that taught him the most he is still close to them and they meet monthly for a book club. He has come a long way from being the orphaned boy with nothing; now at 28, he is successful, rich, handsome, and smart, he is never in want of female company and enjoys his encounters at the pleasure garden, but now he has decided to marry and will indulge one final time – but this encounter is unlike any he has ever known and he knows that he can’t marry anyone while his feelings for his mystery lover are so intense. He plans to meet the Duke of Chelmsworth’s sister, but will explain his change of heart to the Duke, and then hopefully find his lover. And find her he does, she is the mother of the woman he had considered marrying! He is delighted to find her, but that feeling is not returned and it becomes crystal clear that finding his HEA is not going to be easy.
I loved the first book in this series and when the book started so hot, I had high hopes for a repeat. But my experience with Ms. Frampton has been hit or miss, I was hoping that this series would be a grand slam of hits – but I am sad to say the series is tied at 1 – 1. The writing is great (as always) but the lighthearted banter and humor that made the first book such a delight to read was nowhere to be found in this book. This was angsty and repetitive and I didn’t like Alexandra– she wants everything to be her way or you can’t be part of her life – which OK, I get it, she has never had any freedom, but it came across as self-centered and dictatorial – and when Theo didn’t do exactly as she wanted, she cut him out of her life and if not for her problem at the very end of the book, I am not sure she would have taken him back. So despite the 12-year age gap, the abundance of steamy love scenes, wonderful secondary characters, and the setup for a possible Fenton/Harriet romance, this story was a miss for me. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series and will fervently be hoping this story was just a fluke.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*