Review of “A Scandalous Deal” (The Four Hundred #2) by Joanna Shupe

Shupe, Joanna. A Scandalous Deal. New York: Avon Books, 2018. 

Mass Market Paperback| $7,99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062678911 | 373 pages | Historical Romance

4 stars

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with the series, given my disappointment with aspects of A Daring Arrangement. The appearance of the phrase “unexpected passionate shipboard encounter” in the blurb for this one also made me uneasy, as, neglible historical accuracy issues aside,  books that begin with one-night stands between the hero and heroine when they’re strangers typically seem to focus more on the sexual chemistry at the expense of a deeper bond. But my interest in the third book in the series and, consequently, my need to read in order, won out. And I wasn’t completely disappointed.

While I don’t typically like high heat early on in romance, I felt Shupe executed this well by preceding it with banter between Eva and Phillip, and by having it not be a fully consummated encounter, saving it for later in the book. And when this occurs, there is a full understanding of the stakes, especially for an independent woman like Eva, both personally and professionally, and even discussion about contraception, which contrasts with what I really didn’t like about the prior book. And to the point, I felt the sexual attraction and the mutual interests between Eva and Phillip were well balanced by the conflict between them, in that she doesn’t want to be eclipsed by a man and wants to be seen as an equal, and he has more traditional views of what women can do. But I did find myself irritated at times when he did disrespect her, like the time when he blamed her for his losing his self-control and forgetting to use a condom, or his assumptions that, because she lied to him about her father’s health, that she was just out to use him just like other women. However, I did think he grew by the end of the book,

And, as was the case with the prior book, I once again lament the fact that Shupe introduced characters that more than likely won’t get their own stories. This time, it’s not so bad, as Becca does find happiness in a sense, but given what is alluded to about where her heart lies, the possibility of a full novel for her that is mass produced is almost nonexistent.  And the returning characters are equally charming. Despite not being fully won over by Nora and Julius in their book, I truly loved them in this one, especially Nora in full overprotective best friend mode, as more often than not, her insights into the Eva’s relationship with Phillip were ones I agreed with.

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