It Started with a Scandal is the first Julie Anne Long book that I have read and I felt it was okay. I wasn’t really blown by it but it was enjoyable to read. This story is about Elise Fountain, a lady who had a child out of wedlock, was disowned by her family and had been teaching at Miss Marietta Endicott’s Academy. She had to be let go due to the fact that her having a child was known. Desperate, she answered an ad for a housekeeper at a manor rented by Lord Philippe Lavay, an agent of the crown who was recovering from injuries at Pennyroyal Green.
The book opens with an enjoyable battle of wits between the two and instantly, you are hooked to the story. I really loved all “battle of wits” between Philippe and Elise. Their interactions were fairly sizzling off the page while reading. The slow development of their romance was great and I loved that it wasn’t a love at first sight thing. I also loved how both characters were fully developed and well fleshed out.
However, I felt that Elise was just too perfect. Sure, there were references to her stupidity as a younger woman which resulted in her son but still. She was just too perfect (yes, I am saying it again)! Another thing that I noticed is that it was fairly monotonous since a big chunk of the story happens with Elise acting as a housekeeper and reforming the servants. The story does speed up by the last few chapters of the book so I was able to finish it (almost became a DNF). I am definitely glad I finished it and this will not be my last Julie Anne Long book!
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Philippe glanced up in time to see Mrs. Fountain take a quick little extra step at the doorway of his chamber as she departed. It looked suspiciously like the beginning of a…frolic.
God, how the little details of the running of a household bored him. Odd, when the details involved in running a ship were so very similar and he relished those. It was just that one was a job for a man, and one was a job for a woman.
He doubted Mrs. Fountain was that woman.
Why should she succeed when three others had already failed? He’d sacked two of them and the third had fled.
He of course already knew certain things about her—the things the worthy Mrs. Winthrop had chosen to divulge, anyhow—that she was capable of the job, at the very least—and the fact that the quality of her character had allegedly been endorsed by the Redmonds. His closest friend, the Earl of Ardmay, happened to be married to a member of that esteemed family
If there was any advantage to all of the people and events that had led to his convalescent exile in Pennyroyal Green, Sussex, England—cutthroats and kings, seductions and beheadings, exquisite pleasure and excruciating pain, sword fights, gun fights, pirate fights, the utter destruction of his way of life until all that was left of him was the stony-cold, ruthless determination to restore it—it was that he could read people as fluently and swiftly as he read five languages. Questions were merely a way to distract his subject while he quietly summed them up..
Mrs. Fountain’s posture, her diction, her ability to look him in the eye and string together formal, persuasive English sentences, to use a word like “politics”…all of it betrayed more breeding than the usual housekeeper possessed. She was proud. Proud people often did excellent work; proud people often thought they were above their work. Proud people would find it difficult to use the servant’s stairs. His intuition told him she had a temper.
And she blushed and pet the furniture, as if she’d never seen velvet before.
Mrs. Fountain, was also, he suspected, a trifle desperate.
He knew a bit about desperation.
But whilst she spoke, a spiral of glossy black hair had escaped from its bondage of hairpins and settled against her temple like a treble clef. She didn’t seem to be aware of it. It was so at odds with her precise speech and rigid spine that his mind had blanked and he’d almost forgotten what he was about to say. He’d almost forgotten to even think.
He sighed. He’d unnerved her. It didn’t matter. She would doubtless be gone within a fortnight, and hopefully the desperate Mrs. Fountain wouldn’t take the rest f his silver with her.
Charm had begun to seem superfluous in light of other urgencies. Certainly it had been no defense against the band of cutthroats who’d attacked him in London and left him with a lot less blood, a little less money, few more scars, and in debt to the last person on earth to whom he wished to owe his life.
And he always, without fail, honored his debts. He stood again, slowly, stiffly and turned toward the window.
The rain had ceased, and the sun was beginning to drop, and the sky was blushing.
Pink had rushed into Mrs. Fountain’s cheeks when he’d told her she could have the job. It had been rather like the sun rising to illuminate a delicate landscape. He’d ducked his head, feigning distraction, to spare her dignity.
But not before he’d noticed a tiny impression, a dimple, in her chin. He’d imagined pressing the tip of his finger into it, just so.
Perhaps further indication that he was right to ease up on his laudanum.