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One Night of Scandal    by Teresa Medeiros order for
One Night of Scandal
by Teresa Medeiros
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Carlotta Fairleigh has long had the reputation of 'hellion', so much so that her doting family postponed her debut until the shocking scandal (she bit the King of England) had a chance to die down. But even at the ripe old age of twenty-one, and only hours before her official and much delayed introduction to the 'marriage mart', Carlotta gets herself into yet another fix. Determined to spy on the infamous 'Murderous Marquess' (who just happens to have taken up temporary residence next door) and so sate her over-active imagination, Carlotta climbs down the tree outside her window and promptly lands herself in the middle of a sticky and very compromising fix. Within forty-eight hours she and the darkly mysterious Hayden St. Clair are man and wife, on their way to his lonely and supposedly haunted manor on the Cornwall moors.

After the unfortunate, suspicious death of his beloved and mentally disturbed wife Justine, Hayden St. Clair vowed never to marry again. But, realizing Carlotta's future would forever be tainted by the unfortunate incident she innocently initiated, Hayden cannot in good conscious allow her to suffer the same cruel gossip that he has lived with since his wife's death. Once they reach Cornwall, he retreats behind his dark, brooding shell and Lottie soon realises that she will be Hayden's wife in name only. He states that he married her for no other reason than to act as nanny and role model for his troubled ten-year-old daughter Allegra, whose wild nature no one is able to control, least of all Hayden. Undaunted by her husband's rejection and vowing that one day he will see the woman aching for his touch, Lottie throws herself into her new job as step-mother. And soon discovers that Allegra's behavior and Hayden's guilt have more deep-seated and disturbing roots than Lottie ever imagined.

Talented Teresa Medeiros gifts readers with another skillfully told story. First and foremost it's an enjoyable and poignant love story showcasing two dynamic leads in the irrepressible Lottie and the brooding, heartbroken Hayden. What makes this story even richer is a wonderful plot that blends an equal share of humour, pathos, and sensuality, plus a healthy dollop of gothic mystery and ghostly goings-on. And Ms. Medeiros adds to the mix sensitive insight to manic depression, a mental disorder we are only now beginning to understand. One Night of Scandal is a historical romance you shouldn't pass by!

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