Slightly Scandalous (Bedwyn Family Series)

Slightly Scandalous - Mary Balogh 3.5 starsI enjoyed so much of this book! However, it felt. Very. Long. There is so much story contained between its pages, you can't feel cheated at all for the price, especially if you borrow it from the library!If I were to describe the book, I'd describe it in three acts:Act One: A Scheme is HatchedFreya and Joshua meet in Bath (after a quick meeting in an unnamed inn on the way to Bath). Joshua verifies his aunt's scheme to marry him off to his cousin. Joshuah and Freya scheme to thwart his aunt and concoct a fake engagement.Act Two: Meet the BedwynsFreya and Joshua, under the guidance of Wulf, travel to the family home and meet the Bedwyn clan. Freya endures Kit's son's christening. Joshua begins to know and understand more about who Freya is and how she's become who she is.Act Three: Meet Joshua's "Family"... Another Scheme is Thwarted... and The Full and Horrible Truth is RevealedJoshua's aunt isn't done making his life miserable. Since she was unable to stop his sham engagement to Freya, she's decided to use an enemy to frame Joshua for her son's death (Joshua's cousin). Rather than finally call off the sham engagement, Freya, Alleyne, Morgan, Aidan, Eve, and the children travel with Joshua. Freya realizes that, as she suspected, Joshua hides behind a mask of humor and indifference. But he's anything but indifferent and untouched. And she finds herself falling for him... even though he might very well be hanged for murder.------------------------Usually Act Two is dark and oppressive, leading up to something that you're afraid cannot be undone, until it magically is in Act Three. (Or so it is in comedies and romances.) And while Joshua learns about his aunt's plot to frame him for murder, Act Two isn't all that dark. No, it's Act Three that's dark and oppressive... and the resolution of it is quite terrible when the truth about how and why Joshua's cousin died comes out. It seemed almost out of place to put so much terrible revelation into almost the end of the book...The end of Act Three was hard to read. And it seemed almost incongruent with what has taken place up to this point... most of it fairly light and humorous -- even knowing that Joshua's aunt has an iron will and won't give up until Joshua takes his rightful place, if he will. It's a bit heart-breaking, too.So I've mixed feelings about this book. I admit that I'm a fast reader, and I devour books such as this within a single day. So perhaps it's no wonder that I felt as if I'd just survived watching the entire 6 hrs of A&E/BBC's Pride and Prejudice in one sitting. Except that, as I've said, there's much more ugliness and heart-break in this book than in "Pride and Prejudice".And I found Joshua's constant use of "sweetheart" when talking to Freya extremely annoying. He says it over. And over. And over. Almost as if he doesn't know how to call her by her name. Is that the point? That he glibly calls her sweetheart to depersonalize her? To goad her? Perhaps. But it's still very annoying.And Freya... I did like her by the time the book ended, but she didn't make it easy. She's annoying in her haughtiness holier-than-thou attitudes about what's right and wrong. But she has no problem begging Joshua to bed her. And then she has the nerve to tell him that it was all her fault. Freya is a brittle independent -- so caught up in being her own woman and flaunting proprietary, except for what SHE thinks is correct. She gets away with it normally, because she's a duke's sister. And she needed some comeuppance, which happened slowly with Joshua and then more rapidly as she found herself intrigued and involved with his "true" self and life in Cornwall. Freya will likely never be my favorite Bedwyn, but this is definitely her story.Note to self: Read the next "Slighly" book in this series a bit slower...