Freyja Bedwyn is enjoying life as an unattached, privileged woman. She rides recklessly and she wields her social status expertly, setting down those who need it without sparing a second thought. A few chance meetings with Joshua Moore, Marquess Hallmere, give Frejya plenty fuel to the fire for his public humiliation, but her impulsiveness gets the better of her and she falls on her own sword while the Marquess emerges unscathed. But neither is undeterred, for their is nothing much to do in Bath, and they find trading barbs with the other to be a perfectly good way to spend their time. Soon, a begrudging admiration for the other forms between them as they both find the other a worthy adversary. And when a meddling Aunt enters the picture intent on marrying Joshua to his cousin, a fake betrothal seems like a very entertaining addition to Freyja's time in Bath. What was supposed to only last a handful of days turns into a tangled web as the two band together against many twists and turns. We're heading to Bath with the Bedwyns in Slightly Scandalous by Mary Balough! **Taking the waters is good for your heath but you may find them SPOILED!!!**
The following content warnings apply to the book. We do not discuss them significantly in our synopsis but readers who would like to know should be informed:
CW: Rape, incest, sexual abuse of a minor.
Grab your copy of the book we read today, Slightly Scandalous by Mary Balough, here!
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 06:25: Intro/Author Facts
06:25 - 15:53: Synopsis
15:53 - 19:55: Parlour
19:55 - 58:02: General Book Discussion
We include our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
Slightly Scandalous Synopsis:
Lady Freya Bedwyn and Joshua Moore meet in the conventional manner of romance novels, he busts into her room at an inn and hides in her wardrobe from an angry father.
They part after he kisses her, she punches him in the face, and he is forced out the window when she screams, as she warned him she would.
However, they shall meet again shortly. Both Freya and Josh are on their way to bath. Freya to stay with a friend, so she can avoid the birth of her neighbor’s first child. She and he had been in love, but she rejected his suit to do the proper thing and marry his elder brother. Once the brother died, it was assumed he would honor the marriage between the families but instead came home betrothed. Thus Freya is running from the happiness that she feels should have been hers.
Josh on the other hand is in Bath to see his Grandmother. He has been on the continent for 5 years and now that the wars are over has returned to England as the Marquess of Hallmere after the death of his Uncle. He was not supposed to have inherited but became heir 5 years earlier after his cousin drowned one night. He did not have a good relationship with his Uncle’s family, having moved to the local village years before his cousin’s death. Now he is living the life of a wanderer, avoiding his seat at Penhollow in Cornwall as best he can.
Now that we have established the back story, we get back to our romance. Josh and Freya meet again in a park. Freya finds Josh about to kiss a serving girl and immediately intervenes, recognizing the same man who stole a kiss from her at the inn.
She punches him in the nose again and vows to ruin him if sees him again.
The following morning, the two meet at the Pump House, where Freya delivers him a very public set down. It is then that she finds out that he is a Marquess and Josh in turn, finds out Freya is indeed a lady and a sister of a duke.
The two then proceed to banter and trade barbs through various meetings in Bath, while recognizing that they both have a desire to not fit within convention and both enjoy a challenge.
Things get interesting when Joshua’s Aunt arrives in Bath with his eldest cousin, Constance, in tow. She makes it quite clear that she is here to arrange a marriage between the cousins, something they both do not want. Josh tells Constance not to worry. He will not allow her mother to manipulate into a marriage that suits no one but the dowager Lady Hallmere.
As Freya and Josh dance together at a Bath assembly, Josh asks Freya to pretend a betrothal with him in order to foil his Aunt’s plans. Freya who has been bored in Bath and took an instant dislike to Lady Hallmere recklessly agrees. It is announced right then and there to all of Bath society. The two are tickled pink with the idea that Lady Hallmere could be so easily out maneuvered.
However, all does not go as planned. Lady Hallmere does not back down, so Josh and Freya have to keep their ruse going for longer than desired.
“Ah, sweetheart,” he said, “I have made life difficult for you.” “You have indeed,” she said. “But I agreed to your mad scheme and on the whole I am not sorry. This past week has been far less tedious than it would have been if we had not been betrothed. Indeed, it has been downright enjoyable.” “For me too.” He grinned at her.
Things are further complicated when Freya’s brother Wulfric, the Duke of Bedwyn appears in Bath. He had been informed of the betrothal and was wondering why he had to find out in a letter from Lady Hallmere?
Freya and Josh are then swept up in the events their “betrothal” created and eventually find themselves at Lindsay Hall, the seat of the Duke of Bedwyn and where currently all Bedwyn siblings are in residence.
Wulfric, who has been informed of the fake betrothal, tells Freya to not say anything to her siblings, so Josh gets to see the Bedwyn’s in the natural environment.
He thoroughly enjoys his time at Lindsay Hall. The siblings are all avid outdoors people. He and Freya find themselves in numerous challenges, all while getting to know each other.
The downside of going home to Lindsay Hall is that Freya is forced to attend the christening of her former loves new son. This event is hard for her and Josh notices pretty quickly. While he just assumed it was because she felt she was missing out due to the death of the eldest brother, she confides that she had held a tendre for his brother.
All these confessions take place in an old gamekeeper's cottage, where of course, clothes soon fly. Freya and Josh have been flirting and getting to know each other and finally the sexual tension boils over.
We have our first encounter which is explosive but sadly all too brief.
What followed was more like a wrestling match than lovemaking. He had no idea how long it lasted. He only knew that somehow he held on to some measure of control until she cried out and shuddered into a powerful release.
After this encounter, things start to get even more interesting. Joshua receives a letter from his steward at Penhollow informing him that his Aunt has found a “witness” to say that Josh killed his cousin five years ago in order to gain the title.
While Josh plans to go deal with this issue by himself, Freya is outraged and insists on accompanying him, thus extending their “betrothal” even more.
She had made the impulsive, mad decision to accompany him here, and now she had been drawn inextricably into his life.
They are also accompanied by a few of her siblings, and Josh is a bit moved to have such an exalted family in his corner. Afterall, no one can deliver a set down with a smile like a Bedwyn.
Their arrival at Penhallow is a surprise to Josh’s aunt, but she is not finished with her schemes.
It takes little time for Josh to tell his Aunt that he is aware of the allegations against him and also decides to plan a ball for everyone in the area.
Freya spends her time at Penhollow getting to know this new Josh. From the moment she met him, she figured he was a careless rogue. Now he’s proving to not only be thoughtful but a responsible man, liked by all.
While they are still planning to end their betrothal as soon as the charges of murder can be dealt with, Freya and Josh do take some time to have a couple encounters.
It was the moment at which Freyja realized fully what grave peril she was in. Every minute was revealing more and more of his humanity to her. This morning at breakfast he had been bold and forthright, a hint of ruthlessness behind his courtesy and his smile. She might have been able to resist that man. Now he was full of warmth and laughter and concern for the friendship of people Freyja did not normally consider worthy of notice —it was a strangely shameful realization. This man was altogether harder to resist. He was so very different from any other man of her class and acquaintance.
Josh is also finding Freya Bedwyn more and more his ideal woman. She is courageous and even though she comes off as haughty, she is not dismayed by his familiarity with those “lower” in rank than himself. While he was not ever seriously considering marriage, he is finding it harder and harder to come up with reasons not to make this brothel real.
As far as the murder of Josh’s cousin Albert, all is revealed at the ball thrown at Penhallow. It turns out that he did in fact drown. Josh and him argued about Albert’s rape of one of their governesses who was gave birth to a child front he encounter. However, Josh over saw his cousin get safely to shore and then left.
Albert was confronted by his sister Chastity, who knew all that he had done and told him he better leave and never come back. Albert, who was just getting out of the ocean when he was confronted, turned back around and went back out swimming.
This is all revealed to the magistrate who says, they can put the whole thing behind them. As far as he is concerned, he heard nothing and just had a great night at a ball with his wife.
Joshua makes it clear to his aunt that she is to remove herself from the property and promises his cousins that he will support them in all their decisions from here on out.
Freya and Josh also finally have their reckoning and with confessions of love, they decide to become betrothed for real.
“What poppycock!” he said. “Do you not trust me to say the truth to you, Freyja? I say that I love you, that I adore you, that I can imagine no greater happiness than to spend the rest of my life loving you and laughing and quarreling and even fighting with you. I trust you to say what is true to me. You have said that you love me— that of course you love me. Does that include the wish to marry me, to live here with me all your life, to have babies with me and fun with me? To share the sorrows of life with me? And all its joys?
They are married at Lindsay Hall with all of Freya’s family present and they lived happily ever after!