Review: Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer AshleyScandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #6.5
Published by berkley, InterMix on September 16, 2014
Genres: Highlander Romance, Historical Romance, Romance, Scottish Romance, Victorian Romance
Pages: 160
Format: eBook
Source: Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

Scandal follows Rose Barclay, young widow of the Duke of Southdown, wherever she goes. It's never her fault--honor bright--but newspapers love to write about the young woman from Scotland, and the much older duke she married, who died on their honeymoon. The duke left her with a large widow's portion, now contested by his son, who kicks Rose out of the estate's dower house and uses it to kennel his dogs.

Rose does *not* need to be found with a large, handsome Scot passed out at her feet, fueling gossips and giving her stepson more ammunition. The Scot is Steven McBride - a decorated soldier who is notorious for heavy gambling and womanizing during his leave time. Steven is happy to open his eyes and find the beautiful woman standing over him, and happy to help spirit her away. He comes up with a ruse to foil the journalists, but Rose will have to go along with his very scandalous proposal.

Guys! Another Mackenzies & McBrides story! Squee!

Steven McBride is an army captain on leave. He has a duty to perform that he’s been procrastinating, so of course, he is spending his time in London drinking and gambling.

  In his incredibly drunken state, he can’t remember where he’s staying, so he sort of wanders around outside until he literally bumps into a beautiful lady.

Rose is being accosted by paparazzi, as usual, because although she’s a duchess, she’s a widowed duchess whose stepson is trying to have her title stripped, marriage to his (older) father annulled, and is tying up her inheritance and money in a horrible legal battle. And unfortunately that means she’s a gossip rag cash cow (or the Victorian equivalent).

Scandal follows Rose everywhere. And Steven makes it worse by drunkenly falling on top of her, and then being unable to untangle himself from her. Rose is able to smell the liquor on him, and she sees a disheveled soldier. So she tries to help him out by taking him in and giving him a meal.

But she has nowhere to stay, herself, and no money. But she’ll make do.

When Steven wakes up, Rose has brought him breakfast. They’re in her coachman’s home, and she is beside herself that the gossip has picked Steven as their latest target. As she’s apologizing, Steven realizes just how rare and sweet Rose is. So he tells her that in order to restore her reputation, they’ll tell the journalists that they’re engaged.

What follows is a sweet and super sexy story about their false engagement becoming a real one. With a visit from many of the Mackenzies that we already know and love, this novella was awesome! We see Steven’s brother, hero of the next book Rules for a Proper Governess, who helps Rose find a solicitor who will untangle the legal mess her stepson has tied her up in. We see a wonderful story with wonderful characters develop, and we see a wonderful happy ending.

Seriously, I loved it. It’s a long novella (like 160 pages!), and it’s wonderful from the first scene to the last.  This book has all the magic and romance that you expect when you pick up a Jennifer Ashley book.

***ARC courtesy of the publisher via netgalley