I remember not being wildly in love with this novella the first time I read it, and I remain underwhelmed during this reread. I think my main problem is that all of the material is here--the elements are present that should make this a good book. I genuinely like Rose and Steven. I think, for once, the supporting cast is well-used. The plot catches my interest and seems well suited to the novella length.
The problem here is that everything is on the surface--it's undeveloped. I want to know more about Rose and Steven and their backstory. Steven seems like he's got this super angsty reason for being in London and then you find out what happened, and you're like...what? Rose is supposed to be this scandal-plagued duchess, but the material surrounding her scandals seems really underwhelming.
I just found myself wanting to know more and not being satisfied with the way it ends.
Steven seems like there's a bit of angst in his life when we meet him. He's come home on military leave, gets himself so drunk he can't remember where he is staying, and there are all these hints about an unpleasant errand that he's dreading. At no point does the reader ever know what's going on, so we find out at the same time as Rose -- it's a lot of build up and there's just..nothing there. He and a fellow soldier once quarreled bitterly over a woman the other guy ended up marrying. The guy dies, saying now Steven and the wife can be together, and Steven has to tell the wife he doesn't want to marry her. Like...it's just...not that big a deal.
And I wasn't thrilled with how Rose's story ended either because there's actually no resolution. No real stakes. Her stepson has tried to keep her from her inheritance by saying her marriage to his father was bigamy--but apparently, it's easily proved that the parish register he's using is a fake, sooo....? And then there's a moment where it's like the stepson is like violently insane, and then not. And then the resolution to the inheritance is that the husband went through crazy hoops to leave Rose a house--but if it's in her name and separate from the estate, why couldn't he just....tell her that in the will?
I don't know. It was all just weird. And the ending to both subplots didn't really satisfy me at all.
Scandal And The Duchess (MacKenzies & McBrides, #6.5)
Overall Response I remember not being wildly in love with this novella the first time I read it, and I remain underwhelmed during this reread. I think my main problem is that all of the ...