It wasn’t too long ago that, upon reading a highly enjoyable seaward romance, I thought to myself “this is a niche I want to explore.” Lo and behold, I happen upon a recommendation for Almost a Scandal, only to find it was already on my TBR, and away we go! This was a true delight — about 4.5 stars, and I honestly can’t think of a good reason why I’m leaving off that last .5, other than some nebulous form of contrarianism. But let’s not quibble — let’s dive into a plot summary!
“A Lady in Disguise
For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard the Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues…
A Man Overboard
Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of a battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test…”
So clearly, this book has everything: cross-dressing without eye-rolling gay panic, a highly capable (and charismatic besides) heroine, a dashing and intelligent hero, an actual historical battle (the 1805 defeat of Napoleon’s navy at Trafalgar,) a healthy sprinkling of shipboard jargon without being stuffy about it, and an honest-to-goodness love story based in youthful admiration, bolstered by adult respect, and electrified by forbidden lust.
Because Sally is disguised as a man for 70% of this book, it’s definitely heavier on plot and significant glances than on sex scenes, but that is in no way a shortcoming, given the strength of the secondary relationships between Sally and her fellow midshipmen and the adventurous, suspenseful background of life at sea. I just really enjoyed this and highly recommend it! No more words!