by Mary Balogh

June 2003
ISBN: 0-440-24111-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lady Freyja Bedwyn is a most unconventional member of society. Raised with her boisterous brothers, she has learned many unladylike behaviors. She rides like the devil, has a mean right hook and can stand toe-to-toe with any man. She hates shopping and has no sense of style. Her domestic skills are nearly non-existent, and on top of everything else, she is no great beauty. In fact, “handsome” is probably the kindest way to describe her strong-featured face.

She has fled her ancestral home, momentarily seeking entertainment in Bath, hoping to distance herself from her childhood beau who is happily married and expecting his first child. Refusing to have her snoring maid in the same bedchamber with her, Freyja is shocked when a man bursts into her room, asking her to hide him! The absolute nerve of this stranger! Doesn’t he know who she is?

Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, has no idea who this virago is, he only needs to hide from the men who seek to trap him into an unwanted marriage. He does admire her spirit though, and wishes he had time to make her acquaintance under better circumstances.

When the two meet up again in Bath, Freyja is dismayed to learn that the insufferable rake is a member of society. Determined to pay no attention to his flirtatious ways, she is nevertheless drawn into another plot to compromise him into marriage. Since Freyja hates this sort of manipulation, and instantly loathes his aunt, the one behind the plan, she offers to aid Joshua. She never expected him to suggest that they pretend to be betrothed! Well, as long as it is temporary, that is fine, but she has no intention of marrying, especially to a devilishly handsome rogue like Hallmere.

The sparks really fly in Slightly Scandalous, the third book in Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn family series. These are extremely strong-willed people, who cannot be in the same room without indulging in outrageous behavior. He is a master at flirtation and seduction, she is stubborn and opinionated, frequently jumping to the wrong conclusions and then voicing her opinions. I truly enjoyed the dialog and excellent characterizations in this book. The plot is fast-paced and entertaining.

Originally a very unsympathetic character, Free’s emergence as a true heroine is extremely well-written. She has hidden issues that fuel her outrageous behavior. I just adore Joshua! He is one of the best heroes I have read in a long time. As this group of stories gradually unfolds, we continue to see more of the family dynamic that rules the Bedwyns. In this book, we get another tantalizing glimpse of the humanity of the family scion, Wulfric, the Duke of Bewcastle. Usually so camouflaged by his position and natural reserve, Wulfric is the last person to display emotion or passion. He is encased in icy superiority. Ms. Balogh has indicated that the final three books of the series - Alleyne, Morgan and Wulfric- will be released next spring. I cannot wait!

Reviewed in June 2003 by Paula.

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