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Release Day Review! SCANDALOUS PASSIONS by Nicola Davidson (Highland Menage #1)

Scandalous Passions cover

Scotland, 1504.

Lady Janet Fraser didn’t earn her reputation as Scotland’s most notorious sinner by following the rules. A former mistress of King James IV, she’s content to live her life from pleasure to pleasure. Even if those pleasures—and people—are forbidden.

People like Sir Lachlan Ross, given the moniker The Highland Beast, a man as intimidating in battle as he is in size. A beast she discovers secretly wishes to be tamed and submit to her dominance.

Or like her new ward, Lady Marjorie Hepburn, a convent-raised virgin with a desire to be taught all the sensual secrets of the marriage bed. Things that Janet is fully willing to teach her, again and again. There’s much for her to learn.

And forbidden pleasures like the three of them together in one bed.

But Lachlan and Marjorie both have ties to the king. As wicked lusts are indulged and affection unexpectedly grows into love, breaking the rules this time could mean all of their undoing…

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Phew–this book! You might want to have a fan and icy cold drink nearby while reading…just sayin’ 😉

I haven’t really read much about this time period and place (Scotland in the early 1500s, the court of King James IV) but OMG, from this intro to them I’m absolutely going to have to do some research. To describe his court as “wild and bawdy” (as the author does in this interview almost seems an understatement. I mean, OMG.

Lady Janet had been one of James’s favorite mistresses, but now that he has a young English wife and needs to keep her family happy (happy wife = positive relations with England) he’s sending her away to live on one of his lesser properties. But he’s not sending her alone–oh, no. He’s sending her with his famed protector, Lachlan AKA the Highland Beast. And that’s not all–he’s also sending his lovely young virgin ward, Lady Marjorie (who has spent most of her life in a convent–of course! ;)–paying for the sins of her father). He needs Marjorie to be kept safe (and virginal, naturally) until he can figure out who he can marry her to that will benefit him best politically.

Ah, medieval politics. You gotta love ’em.

Honestly, though, he should have known going in that this probably wasn’t his best move politically. I mean, he knew Janet. In every sense. And he thought his virgin ward would be safe there…?

I’ll say this for Janet, Lachlan, and Marjorie. They tried to keep her technically a virgin. Sort of. Honestly, it was James himself who pushed them over the line–so it’s his fault, right? 😉

What I really liked about this book:
– Janet’s strength never depended on making others feel less-than
– The focus on consent (not purely a modern construct, surely! With a dominant female, it’s especially believable IMHO)
– I loved that the two F’s didn’t exist in this relationship merely to cater to/make the M feel good
– Lachlan’s extreme cinnamon roll-ness was delicious
– Yes, there’s a lot of sex. But there’s a story here too, with characters with complicated pasts who actually talk to each other (eventually, at least–there is a bit of just talk to them already! here but it lasts a reasonable amount of time before the talking happens. And then there’s more sex)
– All problems weren’t solved by a magic wang in the end

I’d make a list of what didn’t work for me, but honestly I can’t think what I’d put on it other than having to wait until August for the next one, and that hardly seems fair…

Overall, this was exactly the luxuriously smutty read I really needed this weekend. Scandalous Passions is the first book in Ms Davidson’s Highland Menage series–and if the other books are anything like this one, I am so here for them!

Rating: 4 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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