June 1814—Major Richard Mallory summoned home from France and his regiment of men fighting the war against Bonaparte, now stood irritably before his austere grandmother who had issued the untimely request. Unbelievably, she had called him home for the sole purpose of retrieving the Mallory heart, a family jewel that had been missing for the past fifty years. Unrepentant, and indifferent to his men and their plight in the war that had so heroically secured said grandmothers freedom in England, she blundered on relentlessly with her demands. Regally, she informed him that he was now the heir to his dying grandfather’s earldom, since his brother’s death and she would brook no indifference to her latest cause. Each earl since the time of Queen Elizabeth had bestowed the Mallory heart to his countess as a token of love, and a symbol of his bond in marriage. Inasmuch, his grandmother had been robbed of such an honor since the ruby heart had gone missing on his grandfather’s watch.
The beautiful widow Lady Isabel Weymouth, is destitute and on the hunt for a wealthy husband. Hoping for a successful evening, she secretly borrows one of her grandmother’s treasured possessions and pins it to her bodice as a good luck charm. She plans to attend a very important ball, and she has must look her best. While her beauty draws attention, Isabel is not at all confident she has secured the affection of the very rich Lord Kettering. Kettering was certainly attractive (if not a bit dull) and Isabel is convinced he alone can fulfill all her needs. He is her only hope. Therefore, with single-minded determination she pursues her prey. No, not even the very handsome (but penniless) Major Richard Mallory, could sway Isabel from her goal. Besides, Major Mallory was beginning to irritate her, as he seemed to be paying particular attention to the region of her cleavage.
Candice Hern delivers a quick, satisfactory, regency romp in Her Scandalous Affair. The plot centers on the missing heirloom, but becomes decidedly predictable. Nevertheless, the premise of the Mallory hearts is what draws the reader in, as it is engraved with words that signify the one who bestows and the one who wears it to be each others one true love.
While I consider myself a fan of Ms. Hern, I must say I preferred the more complex stories of her last series. In Once A Dreamer, Once A Scoundrel and Once A Gentleman, I was brought to tears more than once and laughed out-loud too many times to count. Sadly, the sexual chemistry between the two protagonists in Her Scandalous Affair sizzled in the beginning, but disappointedly seemed to fizzle towards the end. I liked both characters, but preferred my time spent in Richard’s company. The secondary characters were one-dimensional, and I just never warmed to any of them. Though I knew how the story would end, I kept turning the pages, perhaps just to prove I was right all along and not because I was seriously engaged. While I cannot say Her Scandalous Affair is a true “keeper,” it is definitely worth the read if your not in the mood for substance and won’t mind a little fluff for a change of pace.