Book 1 in the Scandalous Women
of the Ton series
Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…
Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…
Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them - and their emotions - to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?
Beware of scandalous women...
The room he entered was a library, bright with sunshine and fresh with lemon and white paint. A fire burned in the grate even though the May morning was warm. A dog, small, grey and fluffy with a blue ribbon in a fetching topknot, lay on a rug before the fire. The dog was as handsome in its own way as the footmen were in theirs and it raised its head and fixed Alex with an inquisitive brown gaze. There was the scent of lilies and beeswax in the air. The room felt warm and welcoming. Alex, who had had no settled home for over seven years and who had never felt the need for one, never wanted one, was brought up short. To relax in such a room, to take a book from those shelves and a glass of brandy from the decanter, to sink into a deep armchair before the fire, suddenly seemed the greatest temptation.
But perhaps not...
The greatest temptation must surely be the woman who was standing by the long library windows with the sunlight threading her rich chestnut hair with sparks of gold and copper. Her face was oval. Her violet eyes were set wide apart above a small, straight nose and a luscious mouth that was so full that it was almost indecently sensuous. She was not conventionally beautiful in any way; too tall, too slender, too angular and her face too striking, but it did not matter one whit. In a cherry red morning gown with a matching bandeau in her hair, she was dazzling. There were no widow's weeds here, not even the lavender of half-mourning, to drain the life and vibrancy from her.
Alex had little time to do more than register just how appealing Lady Joanna Ware was, and to register that appeal at a very deep, masculine and primitive level before she had seen him and had flown across the room to his side.
"Darling! Where have you been? I've been waiting for you for hours!" She threw herself into his arms. "Was the traffic in Piccadilly utterly dire?"
Her body felt warm and yielding in Alex's arms, as though she had been made specifically to match him. Shock ripped through him at the sense of deep recognition. She smelled of summer flowers. For a brief moment her face was upturned to his, her violet eyes wide and surely holding fear, of all things, as well as some wordless appeal, and then she had put one hand on the nape of his neck and brought his mouth down to hers and was kissing him as though she really, really meant it.
It was astonishingly, instantaneously arousing. Alex's entire body responded to the impossible seduction of her lips, so cool, so soft, so tempting. On mature reflection he thought that perhaps kissing Lady Joanna Ware was a somewhat incendiary way in which to end over two years of celibacy, but in the moment he thought of nothing other than the press of her body against his and the absolute need to take her to his bed — or her bed since it was, presumably, closer.
Heat coursed through his body, and flagrant desire, wickedly strong. But already Lady Joanna was stepping back and freeing herself, leaving him with no more than a promise of heaven and an uncomfortable arousal. Her lips clung to his for a second and he almost groaned aloud. There was a spark of mischief in her violet eyes now as she cast a fleeting glance down at his trousers.
"Darling, you are pleased to see me!"
She was calling him darling because she had no idea who he was, Alex realised, taking strategic refuge behind a rosewood desk piled high with books in order to hide his body's all too obvious discomfort. He smiled at her, throwing down a challenge. If she could be outrageous then he could match her. She deserved it for using him when she had no idea of his identity and cared even less.
"What man would not be, my sweet?" he said. "Surely my impatience is entirely forgivable? It seems days since I left your bed rather than hours..."
End of Excerpt. Like It? Order It!
“A winning blend of passionate love story and intrepid adventure”
— Rakes & Rascals • Read the full review
I will actively seek out Nicola Cornick's books from now on!
“I just flat-out thoroughly enjoyed this read. Highly recommended to readers who are in the mood for some rapier wit, some Arctic shenanigans, and great writing. It's the type of book to make you feel cheery on a day where you feel low, or even make you grin bigger on days when you're feeling pretty okay. If you're going on holiday, pop this into your bag to take along for some great relaxing reading and hot hot romance.”
— My Favorourite Books • Read the full review
If you like Regency romances, you'll love this!
“Historically set books need to be authentic. That's why I love Nicola Cornick's writing. It feels authentic, but I don't need to re-read something five times to understand what's going on. She's really becoming a favorite!”
— Owl Tell You About It • Read the full review
Wow. I started this book and didn't want to put it down!
“My favorite part of this was the unusual setting. The Arctic in a Regency romance? That's awesome! It was fascinating!”
— Romance Old School Blog • Read the full review
“In Alex Grant the author has given us the perfect romantic hero; handsome, dashing, brave yet emotionally vulnerable.”
— Historical Novel Review
“A lovely, lovely historical romance not to be missed.”
— My House of Books • Read the full review
“Whisper of Scandal won the National Readers Choice Awards in Oklahoma for Best 2010 Historical!”
“An engaging, witty, and emotional journey. Whisper of Scandal is an excellent choice for the romance reader.”
— Medieval Bookworm
“This beautifully written, fast-paced love story is difficult to put down.”
— Novelicious • Read the full review
— Star Magazine
“Brilliant, couldn't put it down!”
— Book Chick City • Read the full review
Book of the Week, 5 Stars!
“It would be a scandal to miss this!”
— Now Magazine
National Readers Choice Award Finalist!
“Whisper of Scandal is a finalist for the 2010 National Readers Choice Award for historical romance!”
5 Stars Top Pick!
“A winning blend of passionate love story and intrepid adventure. An intense and emotional story.”
— The Romance Reviews • Read the full review
“Nicola Cornick is fast becoming a favorite of mine. This book is a great fit for Regency lovers who love beautiful settings and love with a bit of tragedy thrown in.”
— Fall in love with books • Read the full review
“This is a fast paced, page turner with twists and turns and a wonderful cast of characters that will keep you turning the page long into the night”
— My book addiction and more • Read the full review
“Whisper of Scandal is a beautifully written historical romance with unique characters and settings that are guaranteed to please even the most discerning reader. I devoured every word.”
— iReadRomance.com • Read the full review
“Be still my heart! What a riveting, wonderful tale from start to finish.”
— Seriously Reviewed • Read the full review
“'Ms Cornick did a fabulous job writing the tension between the two characters. Not only the sexual chemistry involved but the emotional and mental clash as well. I'm not generally a fan of adventure books, but Nicola Cornick had me hooked in Whisper of Scandal.'”
“Vivid, powerful and absolutely breathtaking. Written with dexterity and confidence, Whisper of Scandal (has an) enticing blend of polished writing, richly drawn characters, meticulous historical detail, heart-stopping action and sexy romance.”
— Single Titles • Read the full review
“Be prepared to laugh and cry as you read this heart-wrenching story. The strength of the characters will draw you into this wonderful romance.”
— Fresh Fiction • Read the full review
“An adventure and a love story, WHISPER OF SCANDAL has a unique premise and two wonderful lead characters. Well written, historically accurate, and character based, this is a great start to the trilogy.”
— Romance Reviews Today
“Nicola Cornick gives the Regency historical a deliciously fresh twist with her sexy tale of daring explorers, bold women, and the uncharted dangers of the frozen North.”
“Consummate storyteller Cornick incorporates guilt, deception, misunderstandings and a devastating secret along with powerful emotion to craft a sexually charged and passionate adventure romance readers will adore.”
— Joan Hammond, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine
“Whisper of Scandal is spilling with excitement, scandalous scenes, and a stirring romance. Breathtakingly original.”
— Fiendishly Bookish • Read the full review
“Nicola Cornick steers (a) standard Regency plot into uncharted waters. Drawing on the history of Arctic travel, (she) gives the reader a compelling landscape as backdrop to the burgeoning romance, along with wonderful scenes.”
— Publishers Weekly
4.5 Blue Ribbons!
“Chock-full of angst and dizzying chemistry, Nicola Cornick continues to inspire, entertain and satiate with Whisper of Scandal.”
— Romance Junkies • Read the full review
“A riveting read.”
— New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney
“With every Nicola Cornick book you know you are in for a wonderful read and a most enjoyable adventure!”
— Mary Gramlich, The Reading Reviewer. • Read the full review
In the summer of 2007 I took a cruise on a small ship around the island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever made. I knew I wanted to set a book there but it was hardly the most likely background for a Regency historical. And yet I think it must have been meant, for as soon as I started to research the rich history of Spitsbergen I realised that it was exactly the right setting for a Regency historical.
At the end of the eighteenth century there were a number of voyages made by the British Navy — and sailors of many other countries — to find the North East passage, a trade route around the North Pole. One of these was in 1773 when John Constantine Phipps in the ship Race Horse and Captain Skeffington Lutwige in the Carcass set off from Sheerness in Kent. On Lutwige's ship was a certain young Midshipman called Horatio Nelson. They sailed north for over a month until stopped by sea ice. Within a few weeks the ships were completely trapped by the ice and they had to cut a path through to clear water. Phipps's record of this fascinating voyage was one of the sources that I drew on for this book.
Many other expeditions followed, all of them hair-raising and involving any number of encounters with dangerous animals, even more dangerous weather conditions and almost certain death. The Navy at that time was full of young men who had proved themselves during the Napoleonic Wars and were looking for adventure. In the words of one historian they were: "efficient and daring with polish, dash and determination." Alex, the hero of Whisper of Scandal is one such man, an explorer and adventurer who seeks out the challenges that this most inhospitable environment can offer.
Wooden sailing vessels offered very primitive living conditions. Heat, light and ventilation were inadequate and food was biscuits and salted meat. Sickness, injury and death were inevitable on such voyages. Ships were strengthened for Arctic service. The strongest were called bomb ships because their decks had previously been strengthened to support mortars for coastal bombardment during the Napoleonic War. Even these were no proof against the crushing power of the ice, however. Clothing was also inadequate. The crew were given box-cloth jackets, the heavy wool fabric worn by coachmen, but the rigging and the spray literally froze, there was frostbite and the mess deck dripped and froze too. A wool jacket was little protection. The crew also received double the pay of normal sailors. Some, frozen to the rigging, may have wondered if it was worth it!
Fortunately on my converted ice-breaker there was proper heating and excellent food but even we were left in no doubt of the awesome power of the ice when we became trapped in an ice field and had to battle our way out.