Scandal of the Season
The Spinster Club – Book #4
By Christie Kelley
Publisher: Kensington – Zebra
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Orphaned at a young age and forced to work as a pickpocket and orange seller, Anne Smith was used to the lewd stares and comments from pompous lords but the young gentleman she knew only as Tony was different from the rest, treating her with kindness and respect. She knew she could never mean anything to someone of his stature but, when he came to her in obvious emotional pain, she chose to comfort him by giving him her innocence…and then she disappeared. Now, ten years later, with a new name and running a home for orphaned children, Victoria Seaton (formerly Anne Smith) finally re-enters Somerton’s life when, to get money to feed the orphans, she lifts a ruby necklace from his pocket at a christening party. Unfortunately, for Victoria, Somerton not only figures out who stole the necklace but also that she’s the woman from his past.
But Victoria isn’t the only one who’s hiding secrets. Somerton, it seems, has a secret life as well – working for the government. He blackmails Victoria into attending a rather disreputable house party as his mistress in order to help him uncover those behind a plot to assassinate the regent. In return he promises to not expose her as a thief and will give her 5,000 pounds to care for the orphans. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? But, of course, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. The longer Victoria and Somerton are together, the more their feelings for one another grow but secrets, misunderstandings and, especially, Somerton’s inability to trust, threaten to keep them apart…not to mention the villains who have set their sights on Victoria.
Kelley has penned another deeply emotional story with multi-layered characters and sub-plots layered within the main one. There's quite a lot going on involving Somerton and Victoria, Sophie, Somerton’s family, occasional appearances by the couples from the previous books and, of course, the mystery/suspense plot. It could easily become cluttered but the other characters, and their stories, are necessary to fully understand the motivations of both Somerton and Victoria and Kelley does a good job of keeping the story focused and the action moving forward. I have to admit that I figured out the villain pretty early on so I wasn’t surprised when the person was revealed. I was, however, surprised, and unsettled, by a scene near the end of the book, shortly after the reveal. Without giving away spoilers, I’ll just say that I understand the necessity of the encounter but I had a hard time handling the severity of it. Overall, though, I enjoyed the book, as I have the others in this series, and am looking forward to Sophie’s story next year.