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Seduction Diaries #2

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior

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In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston's enticing new Seduction Diaries entry, a mysterious journal may provide a potential spinster with instruction—or lead her to her heart's desire Free-spirited Lucy Westmore isn't yet a spinster, although she fully intends to be. Fortunately, an eccentric aunt has left her both a diary detailing the secrets to spinsterhood and a cottage in Cornwall. Unfortunately, an insufferable marquess is angling for her prize! Turning Lord Thomas Branston down flat should be easy. So why does this man who won't take no for an answer make Lucy's body and soul sigh yes ? Thomas knows the real value of Heathmore Cottage, and he has no intention of letting some silly Society miss get her hands on it. He'll simply have to charm Lucy into selling. But the clever young woman he encounters, first in London, then en route to Cornwall, stands stubbornly on her own two (quite lovely) feet. And now, Thomas can think only of sweeping her off them.

406 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 24, 2015

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About the author

Jennifer McQuiston

11 books722 followers
A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. A New York Times and USA Today bestseller, her books include WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND, SUMMER IS FOR LOVERS, MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND, DIARY OF AN ACCIDENTAL WALLFLOWER, and THE SPINSTER'S GUIDE TO SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR. She also has a novella, HER HIGHLAND FLING. Visit her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or follow her on Twitter @jenmcqwrites.

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5 stars
276 (19%)
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505 (34%)
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459 (31%)
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163 (11%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 229 reviews
Profile Image for sraxe.
394 reviews394 followers
November 28, 2015
I really did not like Lucy. Right from the beginning, and a couple times afterwards, we're given the "she isn't like other girls!!" line about her. We're told that she's smart, but she doesn't act it at all. She's always jumping to conclusions and being idiotically impulsive. I got so annoyed with how she'd jump to the worst possible conclusion literally every single time when it came to Thomas. I like angst, but she was just stubbornly stupid. Her rebellions came off as petty and childish, not endearing. Like when Thomas tells her to stay inside and she defies him anyway because...well, why not, right? It's stupid. She's not outgoing and adventurous and free-spirited...she's TSTL.

She also really doesn't have a mind of her own. She first starts calling herself Miss L because her aunt called herself Miss E. Then her aunt wants to be a spinster, and Lucy decides she wants to as well! Her aunt doesn't trust men...so Lucy decides she doesn't either. And then her aunt tells her to not let love pass her by...and then Lucy regrets her decisions. Just...what? I would've preferred her aunt to have a book of her own because she was original, unlike Lucy.

I felt Lucy's emotions were inconsistent and didn't feel reliable. I don't feel that it made sense that she felt humiliated when he rejected her at the inn, but not later when he does so at Heathmore. Even his fumbled proposal had me cringing, yet she doesn't feel that way. I mean...wouldn't you feel humiliated (or at least embarrassed or angry) if someone's proposal consisted of them saying "Yes...maybe...I don't know" when you ask them if they're proposing?? Instead, she just sits there and thinks. It was inauthentic to me.

Thomas's three year self-exile was just...well, stupid. I honestly didn't like the inclusion of Josephine at all. I felt her role was simply to be used as a source of pain for Thomas. I don't like it when a woman's pain or hurt is used for a man's. She was a plot device and nothing more. It's not cute. And what was the point of making Thomas an alcoholic? We see nothing of his struggle and the one time we see him struggle with spirits, he succumbs. The one time he's tried since he's sobered up, he falls off the wagon. And just as with the inclusion of his sister, the alcoholism was used as a plot device and nothing more. I don't like when something as serious as alcoholism is used with no real exploration of it. However! I will say that I'm glad that the author didn't use the excuse of his sister in order to turn Thomas into a manwhore. In fact, he remains celibate! It was very refreshing to read compared to all these other books. I've read faaaar too many books in which the author utilizes this cliched damaged-manwhore trope.

The entire romance aspect didn't appeal to me. The book was instalovey, with the two falling in love and confessing within a week's time. And let's not even get started on that out-of-place consummation of their relationship. I felt the author just threw it in in order to include it. It didn't fit at all.

And although I was surprised with the Mrs. Smythe business, I don't understand why the secret with the vicar was kept as long as it was. I thought it was fairly obvious that it was the Reverend who had mailed the diaries, so I found it to be pretty lame that it was drawn out and kept as a secret until nearly three-fourths of the novel.

The other thing I didn't like about the Mrs. Smythe business was that I don't understand how the Lizardite stuff represents financial independence for her? She obviously depends on Lucy and Thomas to bring the jewellery...so I didn't understand her involvement in it because she added nothing to the collecting, fashioning or anything to do with the production of the jewellery. It would've been different if she had been the one preparing the pieces for them. It seemed forced and lazy on the author's part in order to get Mrs. Smythe to mesh into Thomas's life.

Oh! And this book is another in which children are inaccurately depicted.

“Eddie next door has an uncle who takes him to sail boats on the water at Hyde Park. You’ve never taken me to sail a boat,” she accused.

Sorry, but three-year-old children just don't speak like this. At this age, they speak in simple sentences and are just about starting to get the hang of forming full sentences. No way will they be speaking in full and complete sentences that are 10+ words long!

The book does need some extra editing. It had some spelling errors I noticed, though nothing was too bothersome. The one thing that did stand out to me was what Heathmore was worth. We're told Heathmore is worth one hundred times what Thomas offered, which was seven hundred pounds. Then:

“He’s offered me seven hundred pounds to buy Heathmore Cottage,” she conceded, remembered the last solid offer between them.

His eyes grew round. “Gor! That’s . . . that’s . . .” His nose wrinkled again. “Seven thousand pounds?”

She nodded, the amount making her feel ill instead of glad.

Now...I haven't taken math in a while...but I'm pretty sure a hundred times seven hundred is not seven thousand...it's seventy thousand?? It feels like a very big mistake to miss, imo. The author even later uses both seven and seventy thousand.
Profile Image for Sammy Loves Books.
1,133 reviews1,462 followers
May 21, 2021
Rebellious, stubborn heroine that isn't afraid to dress like a man, steals away in the middle of the night on a personal mission.

Handsome, kind hero with a dark secret struggles to protect naive, stubborn heroine from her own stupidity.

This could have been better, if the heroine was less impetuous and a little smarter. She was always itching for a fight, which kinda got on my nerves.

I actually enjoyed the story, was just annoyed by the heroine.
Profile Image for Hannah B..
881 reviews1,315 followers
July 11, 2023
No actually I wanna tussle with anyone who didn’t like this??? Jennifer McQuiston does not get enough flowers I fear
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,652 reviews216 followers
October 29, 2017
What you should know about The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior: it's low angst (almost no angst really), it doesn't have any villains unless you count the heroine's mother's attempts to make her more ladylike villainous. Lucy can sometimes be annoying with her inability to listen. The most entertaining parts of the book are the extracts from a diary of Lucy's late aunt. They range from hilarious to bittersweet and sad.

I couldn't suspend my disbelief and I didn't really like the heroine of the first book. This one is a bit better in that regard. You do need to make an effort here too, but it's not a chore. Overall, not a bad addition to the series.
A small nitpick, though: I would have changed the title to The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behaviour, but that's just me.
Profile Image for Letitia.
496 reviews124 followers
December 26, 2015
I probably should've DNF'd this one around the halfway point... but I skipped and skimmed along, hoping for Lucy to have some character growth. I waited in vain, sadly. That girl... man, she was annoying. Stubborn to a ridiculous point, brash to a dangerous degree. Worst of all, almost no original thoughts in her head. She lived 99% of the time by the motto, "What would Aunt E do...?" I hate to write it but she was pretty much TSTL, which is not at all like McQuinstons usual heroine.
Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews205 followers
July 25, 2016

I love unconventional HR heroines. The wallflowers, the strong-willed, the brave ones who refuses to conform to society’s rules. So I really wanted to like Lucy, because she is unconventional, but all her plans, all her determination to not be dependent on a husband, in the end just aggravated me. She was set on claiming her inheritance, but she would lose hope very quickly, thinking it was just too difficult to live on her own, and care for a broken down house. And all she wanted to do then was too return to her home, which she ran away from, where it was warm and she didn’t have to know how to do laundry and build a fire. Ugh. And the way she treated the hero…. At first I could understand her mistrust of him, but after he showed her continuously how wonderful he was, how trustworthy, her mistrust just upset me. Greatly.

I really liked Thomas. Before he left London, he wasn’t a good man. He was a drunk who let down his sister. But he’s not that man anymore. He’s a good guy, who’s determined to save Heathmore Cottage and the little town it resides in.

And because I just never warmed up to Lucy, the romance just didn’t work for me. This was a difficult book to rate. I loved the hero, but the heroine just irritated me. But I do like how the author writes, and Thomas and the people from the little town were great characters.

Profile Image for Al George.
502 reviews319 followers
January 12, 2016
Ok let's be honest: Lucy our fair or rather not so fair, heroine got on my last nerve for much of the book. As in I kinda wanted to throat punch her a time or two.

Lucy had nothing but grand ideas and plans that really amounted to, well, not so much. She's totally quick to judge. To think ill of others and to think most are untrustworthy. Chances are she's got some family issues to work out :)

Thomas? Dude, I'm totally in love with this man. I find his character is so compelling, so well defined and described. He made the book sing. So patient, so gentle.

This was a totally entertaining and wonderful little romance. I'll read it a second time, I'm sure.
Profile Image for Holly in Bookland.
1,079 reviews441 followers
July 15, 2020
*3.5 stars ✨

I did like this but at times I felt it was a tad too long. Thomas was my favorite character. He was so sweet:)
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,666 reviews1,231 followers
September 13, 2017
I took a chance on a new-to-me author when my library had nothing new from my faves on offer, and it paid off. I loved the bequest of a cottage to Lucy by her dearly departed aunt and where it led the spinster-to-be, but I also loved the parallels between the two women's lives, as drawn through Lucy's reading of Lady E's diaries. And, of course, I always enjoy stories about spinsters and wallflowers finding love in unexpected places. Cute story. Would definitely read more from this author.
3 reviews
February 28, 2020
This author comes highly recommended so I will try another book of hers. I simply find the heroine in this one extremely irritating. Many TSTL moments. Ridiculously stubborn without sufficient reasons for her intransigence.

I quite enjoyed the hero and the townspeople and I adored the Aunt, whose diaries inspired our heroine to escape the claustrophobic fate of a London aristocratic heiress.

I wish the book had been the Aunt’s. Or that the heroine had grown up earlier in the plot. And that the end had not felt so rushed.

I listened to this on audible and, if anything, the narrator enhanced the book. I will look for other titles by this reader.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,761 reviews1,033 followers
September 17, 2016
I've given this a B+ at AAR, so 4.5 stars.

This second book in Jennifer McQuiston’s Seduction Diaries series re-acquaints readers with Lucy Westmore, the free-spirited, rather hoydenish younger sister of the heroine of the previous book. The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior is a deftly written story that packs quite the emotional punch and boasts plenty of humour and sexual tension between the leads. But Lucy is one of those heroines who insists on being contrary for the sake of it, and whose stubbornness and impetuosity often lead her into difficult and potentially dangerous situations for no other reason than that she won’t be told what to do by a man - which puts her into the TSTL bracket more often than I would have liked.

Lucy is now twenty-one, and not at all relishing the prospect of making her début and having a season, no matter that her mother’s dearest wish is for her to find a husband and settle down. But Lucy doesn’t want to marry, knowing full-well that as a wife, she will in effect be her husband’s property and will have no freedom or independence. When she receives a package containing her recently deceased Aunt Edith’s diaries together with a letter informing her that she has been left a cottage in Lizard Bay, Cornwall in the old lady’s will, Lucy sees it as a sign. She doesn’t remember much about her rather eccentric aunt, but she knows that she trod her own path, choosing not to marry and to live an independent life, exactly as Lucy wants to do. Naturally, she is furious when she discovers that her father has arranged to sell Heathmore Cottage without her knowledge and without her having even seen it – and is even more determined to make her way to Cornwall to see the place and perhaps even take up residence.

The cottage’s would-be purchaser is Thomas, Marquess of Branston, a young man who retreated to rural Cornwall following his sister’s funeral some three years earlier. Having lost both parents and come into his marquessate at the age of eleven, Thomas was a studious young man, but after he left university, he fell in with the wrong crowd and spent most of his time thereafter in the bottom of a bottle. When his sister turned up on his doorstep pregnant, Thomas was too drunk to do anything to help her and then went into a further downward spiral upon the realisation that he had failed her. After the funeral, he fled London and the horrendous resultant scandal and ended up in Lizard Bay, where he encountered the redoubtable Miss E – Lucy’s aunt – who bullied him into the sobriety he has maintained for the past three years.

When Lucy, furious at her father’s presumption in attempting to sell her inheritance, dashes off an uncompromising letter to Thomas, he immediately travels to London – a place he has avoided like the plague for three years – to see if he can charm her into selling to him after all, but Lucy is adamant. She wants to travel to Cornwall to see the cottage for herself before she makes a decision, and even though Thomas offers her far more than the place is worth, she sticks to her guns and refuses him once more, suspicious as to why he is so desperate to buy a place that her father has told her is rat-infested, falling down and situated in the middle of nowhere.

I enjoyed the flirtatiously antagonistic relationship that springs up between Thomas and Lucy, although I did get a bit impatient with Lucy’s persistence in believing the worst of him. That said, their romance develops at a good pace so there’s a sense of their getting to know each other even as they are grappling with the strength of their unexpected mutual attraction. Lucy never expected to feel desire for a man or to have such feelings reciprocated; and the moment when she admits to herself that her determination to remain a spinster has more to do with her fears that she is undesirable than it does with a true inclination to remain single is a poignant one. This also marks the beginning of a new maturity for Lucy, as she begins to understand herself better and to see that so many of her decisions had been prompted by a need to feel important rather than genuine altruism.

Thomas is a lovely hero – kind, funny, understanding and genuinely caring, he grew to admire and respect Lucy’s aunt, and sees much of Miss E in her niece; but he is clear-sighted enough to recognise that perhaps the lady’s life wasn’t quite as full and happy as Lucy seems to believe. The inclusion of various passages from Miss E’s diary is an effective device used to draw parallels between her mindset and Lucy’s. Ms McQuiston does a very good job here of getting the reader to read between the lines as to the truth of Edith Westmore’s self-imposed exile, gradually revealing to Lucy that what her aunt is really trying to tell her is that a life well-loved is a life well-lived.. I did wish that Lucy had arrived at that realisation sooner, however, as her stubborn belief that Miss E would have wanted her to follow in her footsteps and make her life alone makes her seem hopelessly naïve at times and is part of the reason she is not always easy to like.

It’s a refreshing change to read a romance set away from the hustle and bustle of London, and I really appreciated the way in which the community of Lizard Bay is integrated into Thomas and Lucy’s story. One of the things Ms McQuiston has done in all the books of hers I’ve read is to give her heroes an unusual profession (for a romantic hero, that is), and she continues that here by making Thomas a botanist and, in modern parlance, an environmentalist.

I had a few other minor issues with the story, such as the fact that some of the flirtatious banter between Lucy and Thomas is perhaps a little TOO shocking, even for a scandalous spinster! But in spite of that, and even with my reservations about the heroine, The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior is still a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,551 reviews903 followers
Shelved as 'setting-aside-for-now'
September 22, 2017
DNF'd this around 60%

I don't read a ton of historical romance, but I enjoy them now and then and am on the lookout for new authors to add to the small number I read. I thought this seemed promising, but then a lot of things popped up that I really didn't like, and I couldn't keep reading.

What I did like: this was an unconventional heroine, which is great. She wanted to avoid the whole marriage market/Season and live alone as a spinster. Also great. I also liked that the servants (well, one at least) had a part in the story. Besides acknowledging these socioeconomic differences, the book pointed out that upper class women like Lucy didn't have much practical knowledge about the world.

What I didn't: I tried to give Lucy a chance. Really I did. But she was just completely annoying to me. She seemed to have zero common sense and never learn from her mistakes. At one point she actually falls off a cliff after being told to please stay inside a remote cottage. That sort of summed up her character for me. Someone tells her not to do something, she says (in effect) "you're not the boss of me" like a three year old, then gets into trouble that she can't get out of by herself.

She also kept insisting that people call her "Miss L" which irritated me. I guess this was because of Lady E's journal but it really drove me nuts.

Liked the love interest a lot actually. He was what kept me reading. The book gave him a tragedy (his pregnant sister killed herself, something that's told to the reader in the first pages) and this is referred to over and over for reasons that became less and less clear to me. Not sure if it was supposed to make him more sympathetic or what, but I wished it had been better connected to the rest of the story. (Maybe it was in the last 30% it did but I didn't read that part.)

ETA: Have read some other reviews of this and apparently this heroine is atypical for this author so I will try another of her books.
Profile Image for Kimia Safavi.
367 reviews11 followers
November 20, 2015
Jennifer McQuiston is one of the talented authors that I was lucky to find. After reading her first book she becomes one of my auto buy authors.
The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior is the second book in the Seduction Diaries, it can be read as a stand-alone novel but I recommend to read the first book in the series.
Lucy Westmore is free-spirited heroine who used to dress as a boy and climb up the tree but after her sister scandalous marriage four year ago, she decides to go through the season.
Fortunately before the season starts she receives a mysterious package and inherit a cottage in Cornwall from her aunt.
When she finds out that her father sold her cottage to the insufferable marquess, Thomas Brandston, she comes up with a plan...............
Thomas has a big plan for the cottage if the beautiful and stubborn owner let him...
Jennifer McQuiston creates another fun, engaging romance with strong characters. The plot is great, the banter between hero and heroine us fantastic. The ending was fantastic I had a feeling there will be a big surprise toward the end of story but I never could have guessed the surprise.
Thank you Jennifer for writing another fantastic, emotional and entertaining romance.
Profile Image for Molly.
177 reviews35 followers
November 28, 2015
An environmentalist hero? Yes, please. Oh, and he's a nice guy to boot? Sign me up.

I'll admit to being a little frustrated with Lucy's stubbornness throughout the story, but the character development was really well done. Toward the end of the story, I found myself really cheering for her instead of being annoyed by her kind of clueless, privileged behavior. And there were a few surprising twists with Thomas that made me love him even more.

I loved it!
823 reviews16 followers
November 25, 2015
DNF @ pg. 189 (~50%)

I've loved some of Jennifer McQuiston's previous books but I just couldn't stand the heroine of this one. She came off overly proud and sanctimonious. I found myself rooting for the hero to find himself another girl - any girl - and so I figured it was time to quit.

I wish Miss E was the heroine. She sounded like she was a riot.
740 reviews319 followers
October 12, 2018
(2.5 stars) I enjoyed the first novel in this series (DIARY OF AN ACCIDENTAL WALLFLOWER), so this second one has suffered by comparison. This one is about Lucy Westmore, the younger sister of Clare, heroine of the first book. Lucy, it seems, doesn't want to marry and has decided she'd rather be a spinster than an unhappy wife. When her spinster aunt E dies and leaves her cottage in Cornwall to Lucy, not to mention also all her diaries (hence the title of this book), Lucy has a rethink about her life in London.

Meanwhile, there's a certain Lord Branston who seems rather desperate to purchase Lucy's new property. Why? So Lucy's off to Cornwall (w/o parental knowledge or consent) to see what's what.

Lucy is impulsive, spirited, hoydenish, stubborn and, IMO, a big pain in the patootie, especially in her dealings with the hero Thomas, Lord Branston. When she gets an idea in her head she runs with it, with very little rational thought behind any of her decisions. I lost patience with her countless times and could not fathom why the hero falls so in love with her and has such endless patience. He obviously sees more in her than I ever did.

The hero, BTW, is far superior to the heroine. He's a kind, sensitive soul. Unfortunately, he also has some things about him I didn't quite get. He has a somewhat messy past in that he spent his early years after inheriting his title in an alcoholic haze. The reason for this drinking problem was not clear, but because of his reckless, immature life choices, he didn't pay enough attention to his younger sister, with rather tragic results. And that, of course, led to more drinking and more navel gazing and then to his self-exile in Cornwall.

When Lucy arrives in Cornwall, she finds herself in a small village that's in economic straits, full of quirky characters, many poor and superstitious, and none willing to take her to her aunt's cottage located far from town. There's a bit of a subplot about why the former fishing town is having such woes, why the neighboring town is so prosperous, why sensitive soul Thomas wants to own Lucy's inherited property. And there's the spinster issue, with Lucy reading her aunt's diary while hanging around in Cornwall.

Will Lucy gain any insights into what life as a spinster entails? Will we learn more about our hero's past woes? Will Lucy stop, for once, being such an impulsive knee-jerker and see Thomas for what he is? Can the town be brought back to economic solvency? Will both Lucy and Thomas become more reconciled to things in their past and their relationships with family members? (Hint: This is a romance novel.)

There's an interesting industry vs environment issue running through this. This and Thomas's part in it are perhaps the best thing about this book. The worst thing about the story is the heroine. I hope she finally grows up and gets a clue about proper behavior. Thomas deserves better than Lucy. But, hey, it's not for me to say. He loves her.
Profile Image for Susan.
4,424 reviews99 followers
July 28, 2016
Good story about a headstrong young woman and a man with a haunted past. Lucy is twenty-one years old and about to start her long delayed Season. The problem is, she doesn't want it. She has no desire to parade herself in front of a bunch of men who only want her for her dowry. She would prefer to follow in the footsteps of her Aunt Edith, who is a spinster. Then she gets word that her aunt has died and left her a cottage in Lizard Bay, Cornwall. Lucy takes this as sign that she's on the right track. She also receives a package with her aunt's diaries, a chronicle of her life on her own.

Thomas is living in Lizard Bay and was friends with Miss E, as everyone called her. When Lucy's father comes for the funeral, Thomas makes an offer for the cottage, which her father accepts on Lucy's behalf. The property holds secrets and Thomas is determined to protect them. He is stunned to receive a letter a few days later, from a furious Lucy, who has canceled the sale. He heads to London to convince what he's sure is a silly young girl to part with the property. That meeting isn't at all what he expected.

I had some trouble liking Lucy. She was sheltered, therefore completely inexperienced with the real world. She was a bit selfish, taking action without thinking how it would affect others. I understood her need for independence, rather than following the norms of the day. I even understood her desire to see the house for herself. But she was far too impulsive and proceeded without really thinking things through. Her meeting with Thomas was very confrontational, with her being rather judgmental and unwilling to listen to him, though she is also rather drawn to him. When she encounters him on the train, her stubborn attitude continues, even though he is obviously trying to help her.

I liked Thomas a lot. He had his errors in judgment at the start, by not telling her the truth about the cottage and why he wants it. But he is at heart, a good man. Three years earlier he had moved to Lizard Bay, trying to escape the memory of what he saw as his failure to help his sister. Friendship with Miss E and becoming part of the community helped, but he still carries a lot of guilt. He is intrigued by Lucy, who is nothing like he expected.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship, though I frequently wanted to smack Lucy. They arrive in Lizard Bay and Thomas offers to show her the property, but she is sure that she can't trust him. After two days of trying to get someone else to do it, she finally gives in. By the time they arrive it is dark and raining and the house is only partly habitable. Lucy still insists that she can't trust him, and sends him on his way, only to find herself alone in the house with no clue how to go on. I loved the bit of self-realization as she admits her own shortcomings to herself. An encounter with a rat brings Thomas (who hadn't gone far) running. His protectiveness toward her has him staying close, and attraction continues to flare between them. Her stubbornness gets her into a dangerous situation the next morning. A combined rescue from Thomas and her father also brings out one of the secrets of the property. Lucy's mistrust is stirred again, and she is left wondering which is the real Thomas - the one who keeps secrets or the one who helped her?

A little real soul-searching has her finally realizing that she at least owes Thomas the courtesy of listening to what he has to say. I loved this part, as Thomas opens his heart and shows her the real treasure hidden on the property. He also opens up about his past and his feelings for Lucy. But there are still obstacles, mostly his, that come between them and a future. I liked Lucy's realization that Thomas must make certain decisions on his own and how she leaves him to it. I also liked seeing her stand up to her father about her property, and their conversation after was pretty sweet.

A trip back to London for her delayed entry into the season puts Lucy back where she started. She still has no desire to participate, but will do so for her mother and cousin. A surprise arrival brings Thomas to her door, after a lecture from Lizard Bay's vicar (who had an interesting revelation of his own). The day brings additional surprises, as well as the happy ending that both Lucy and Thomas yearned for.

I loved the epilogue, back in Lizard Bay. Lucy has found a way to help the town that they love. There is another surprise waiting for them, one that I rather expected, but satisfying anyway.
Profile Image for Nidofito.
683 reviews37 followers
March 2, 2017
DNF at 57%

I've tried, and I've tried. But I can't seem to care enough to continue.

There is no real plot, no admirable or even likable personalities to the hero and heroine. It's so banal, with repeated sections. Lucy is ridiculous, and I'm sure the intent was to reform a spoiled girl into maturity, but it's done rather poorly I'd say. And Thomas was just meh. He kept saying how Lucy's reckless nature was admirable etc. but to me, it was annoyingly ignorant. You might chuckle the first couple but it gets really old, really fast. No spark between them to speak of, and the little snippets from the dead aunt's diary were annoying.
Profile Image for Noura .
628 reviews18 followers
April 6, 2016
After a very. very long wait......i finally got my grabby hands on this one.

Was i excited? Yes! I even forgot that Lucy is Clare's younger tomboy sister...Clare of the previous book. Was i disappointed? A bit. I was expecting a more lavish story-telling very much like the previous book and the Second Sons series. Those books made me a fan of Jennifer McQuiston. This story is draggy. Although it's quite interesting to have snippets of Aunt E's diary which is funny and sassy, it all became a bit weepy towards the end.

What i didn't like is that the heroine is super-duper stubborn, very impulsive and rather insecure with her feelings and sense of self despite all the big fuss about being independent which made her an overly naive and not a very smart girl in the end. I was expecting a more outstanding heroine. The hero is typically gentlemanly...all politeness, not forthright at all and so they keep going around in circles. When they finally "do the deed", it was like....where?what?....that's it? All that sexual tension and the scene was rushed and before you know it, they've done it. (And that's probably the most realistic part of the story as it mimics real life events....ehem).

Nonetheless, the story has its gems - the message is clear on the importance of preservation of nature and wildlife, you need to be smart to be independent and of course, spinsterhood should be respected as a life choice but marriage also shouldn't be painted as stifling and trapping. And also, a diary with all your sordid secrets and encrypted advice might just be a cool gift to give a young niece/nephew that take after you the most when you leave this earth.

Profile Image for Keri.
2,058 reviews105 followers
January 1, 2016
3.5 Stars. It took me a long while to warm up to Lucy. She was so judgmental and flew off the handle too many times with our hero. Our hero though was sweet and I wanted to kick Lucy in her behind more than once.
Profile Image for Amanda.
604 reviews94 followers
August 2, 2016
Generally not bad, but not as good as the first book in the series. Lucy's insistence on being called Miss L was a little silly and the "I knew I loved you the first day..." bit really bugs me. Otherwise, though, this was quick and relaxing and just what I needed.
Profile Image for Julia.
17 reviews4 followers
August 5, 2018
Now I know that I wrote a review for this already, because it was a cathartic experience after dragging myself through that whole chore of a book--but it seems to have disappeared, so here's the still-not-so-condensed version, rewritten for your pleasure (or at least for your warning).

tl;dr: the book promises a witty heroine with a lively, competitive flirtationship with the marquess who semi-accidentally tried to buy her inheritance out from under her. It doesn't deliver. He's totally honorable, with a dark past that is never explored until the final quarter of the book, much to the plot's detriment; the book drags us through what feels like a real-time trip to Cornwall as the heroine tries to inspect her surprise inheritance, with no subplots and no romantic tension to speak of. This book suffers from a heroine who is TSTL, and although we're told that she has many redeeming qualities, we never see them firsthand. She spends the vast majority of the book aggressively distrusting the eminently trustworthy hero, stomping around and glowering at him like a child who's been told they can't play with a certain toy or they won't be allowed dessert later. Their eventual reconciliation is anticlimactic, the sudden inclusion of a subplot from the hero's "dark past" is forced and would've been much more welcome had it been woven throughout this dull, dull book, and their sudden sexual appetite at the *very* end is as flat and contrived as the rest of this terribly disappointing book.

What's OK Here
• The book makes an attempt to comment on the plight of women in that time period, I guess. (Does it convince me? No. It feels very glossed-over.)
• The writing is OK. The conversations don't feel natural to me, but the description isn't bad, and I know this is a popular author, so I'm hoping this book is just a misfire. I've definitely read worse writing--this author at least uses adjectives that mean what she thinks they mean, which I can't say for everyone.
• The hero is a legitimately good guy! I'm really sick of heroes who are actually just a**holes because... Gothic tropes I guess? If nothing else, I can confidently say this is a hero we can all get behind: charming, kind, etc.

The Whole Review: Long, Frustrated Version
I came to this book because I found it on a "witty heroines" list, and I love a witty heroine who can think for herself and has priorities beyond moping after the hero as they fall in love, preferably with some lively verbal sparring along the way. So when I found this on the list, and saw the description--an unconventional heroine determined to become a spinster inherits a cottage from a mysterious aunt! A charming marquess is trying to persuade her to sell her inheritance! The promise of sparks flying along the way!--I thought I knew exactly what kind of party I was going to. I was disappointed.

We're told that our heroine is independent, impulsive, and dedicated to charitable endeavors to an almost foolish degree. When we meet her, she's covered in dirt and being unsubtly reprimanded by the butler (because having servants behave totally out of character for their station and the time period is fun and quirky and shows us how human the heroine is for allowing them to do so, I guess) for missing calling hours in her own home because she's been so caught up in planting peas for charity(?). That's really the only time charity is a factor in the plot, other than making it difficult for her to finance a trip to Cornwall. And here's the thing--I would totally buy into this intro scene if the conversation had felt at all natural, or if it seemed like Lucy had actually been caught up in her pea plants before the butler showed up, but it felt completely contrived and I can't believe that a forbidding, taciturn butler would be that explicit about his disapproval of a family member's behavior. The "banter" is stiff in this conversation, and that trend continues throughout the book--a huge bummer for me, because that kind of witty banter is what I came here for.

Lucy also doesn't seem particularly independent. Impulsive? Oh, hell yeah. As I believe other reviewers have mentioned, she's so impulsive as to be Too Stupid To Live. Independent, on the other hand? Able to handle herself without the aid of others, even/especially when important people in her life disagree with her choices and refuse to help her? Oh, hell no.

This girl a) doesn't have any pin money because she donates all her allowance to charity every month, providing a nice excuse for a conflict with her father at the dinner table. b) Lucy has no idea how to GET money to fund her desire to visit the cottage her mysterious aunt left for her other than (spoiler? this happens pretty early on and isn't a HUGE deal imo, other than they won't stop talking about it for the rest of the book as if it was incredibly brave of her) c) She gets caught during her escape, which she is making without enough money to realistically make it to Cornwall and back, let alone afford a place to stay in the event that her aunt's cottage really *is* falling to pieces and infested with rats the way that everyone keeps telling her it is. (Lucy, of course, does not believe them, because she's convinced they're just trying to steal her inheritance, and therefore she will not prepare for anything other than the ideal situation she's imagined for herself because, again, TSTL.) She's only able to get the train station because that same opinionated butler from the beginning is the one who caught her, and he gives her some money and hires a carriage for her so she doesn't get MURDERED on her way to the train station, unaccompanied, with no idea how the world outside her pea garden works, at 2am. She continues to depend on the serendipitous aid of strangers throughout the book, and relies upon the hero's insanely unwavering urge to help (despite Lucy's moronic behavior and mulish refusal to believe he might have OK intentions) straight through to the end.

As I mentioned, Lucy is definitely impulsive--that's the one characteristic everyone else attributes to her that is actually held up by her actions. She flings herself to and fro, brushing her short hair out of her face and glowering at the UTTERLY CHARMING AND TOTALLY UNDEVIOUS HERO for almost the entire book. I think I dragged myself through so much of this book because I kept thinking that her idiotic refusal to trust him, with no deeper thought than "he tried to buy the cottage from my father instead of trying to purchase it directly from me, a young woman he doesn't know, and therefore he is totally untrustworthy" (in a time period where women seriously had *no* rights, and anyway there's no reason for the marquess to disbelieve the father of a wealthy socialite when he says "my daughter isn't interested in this cottage that is literally crumbling to pieces"), couldn't last. But it did. Oh reader, it did. Lucy literally has to almost get pneumonia in a haunted-not-haunted house for her to start trusting him. That was a huge relief for me--until, of course, it all imploded in the next chapter, because we have to have the betrayal-of-trust "plot twist." (More like a plot-return-to-form; the chapter of trust felt more like a twist than the "betrayal" did.)

Thanks to Lucy's idiocy/stubbornness, huge sections of this book drag on and on. She spends 3 unnecessary days walking up and down the streets of this Cornwall village to try to convince one of the residents *other* than the marquess, who has repeatedly offered but ~cannot be trusted~, to take her up to her deceased aunt's nearly inaccessible cottage on the cliffs. Does she learn anything during the course of all this trudging around, talking to god knows who (because seriously, this town has like 12 people, how does it take her so long to exhaust all her options)? No. Or if she did, it wasn't anything my brain thought worth remembering. If there had been ANY interesting subplots, perhaps her stay in the town wouldn't have felt so ridiculously protracted. (She does read her aunt's diaries and learn more about the villagers, I guess, but I didn't think any of it was particularly compelling.)

If anything, this book gives us a hero that is legitimately likeable. I think he was supposed to have an "edge" thanks to the dark past that is frequently referenced but never expounded upon until the very end of the book. Their final let's-be-together decision felt a bit rushed, and their final, consummative sex scene was frankly weirdly placed in the plot, but whatever, what's one more strange, contrived scene in this whole mess?

Overall: a huge disappointment. 1 star.
Profile Image for Elodie’s Reading Corner.
2,527 reviews123 followers
April 6, 2019
I do not like to give up on a book, the heroine had me on edge for most of the book, but I so wanted to see how it will turn out for her.
Is it the author’s talent to create such an upsetting character m, but it worked.
I was angry at her for being too stubborn to listen nor give some thoughts before taking matter in hands.
The parallel with her aunt’s diary were so flagrant, I was kicking over the traces of her idiocy and impossibility to see past her nose.
I hoped she would see beyond the appearances, and give Thomas a chance.
But she kept rejecting him, refusing his help.
Yes, he has flaws and some secrets but his reasons were not dictated by greed, more to find an alternai solution.
After when I think of the story, it was set during a short span of time, so Lucy were not able to understand everything is a so short period, why she acted so dumbly at some point, thinking like the spoiled lady she is and not realizing her project to live alone has some defects.
Hopefully the last quarter of the book redeemed the heroine as she made her mission to right some wrongs around her and save her hero.
Profile Image for WTF Are You Reading?.
1,306 reviews91 followers
December 5, 2015
The Spinster's Guide To Scandalous Behavior could be seen as a feminist manifesto... Regency style.

Lady Lucy Westmore is a woman determined to live life as she sees fit.
Unimpressed by the "sell one's self to the highest bidder" meat market.
Otherwise known as The Season.
Young Lucy has chosen, much to the chagrin of her parents, to dedicate herself wholeheartedly to a life of cause laden spinsterhood.
The seeming green light in Lucy's plan for singlehood, comes in the form of the gift of a cottage; on the heels of the death of her aunt.
Knowing ownership of said property is her ticket to the life of her dreams. Lucy is enraged when she learns that her aunt's fortuitous bequest has been sold; without her consent, by her father.
The farthest thing from Lord Thomas Branston's mind when he makes an offer for ramshackle Heathmore Cottage, is the feisty blonde dynamo who is it's true owner. Or the untameable tsunami of emotional upheaval that said dynamo is about to bring into his world, his mind, and his heart.

The Spinster's Guide To Scandalous Behavior while a romance, goes about the act of romancing in a decidedly atypical fashion.
With both its leading man and leading lady wanting nothing to do with the trappings of love and or matrimony, and the diary of Lucy's confirmed spinster aunt, Miss E, providing anecdotal advice and musings to her 'single lady in training' via her diary.

This is a story that finds its feet through the author's masterful usage of situational drama, setting, a vibrant supporting cast, and engagingly witty exchanges between Lucy and her Lord.

The cottage and the neighboring town of Lizard Bay, play such a major hand in providing the two stalwart singletons with reasons to come together that they (meaning the places) soon become characters of a sort in their own right.

The happily...that readers experience here is less one born of passion in the carnal sense, and more of a connection on a soul deep level. Both Lucy and Thomas soon come to find that they each are the missing piece to the other; when they first come to the realization that they are working toward the shared goal of saving both the cottage and the town that they both hold so dear.

This is a wonderful, light, and refreshing read that is unafraid to tackle the very weighty subjects of: woman's rights, personal liberty, and alcoholism.

This is the second installment of a series which may be read both individually and/or as part of its respective collection.

I received the above referenced work in conjunction with Tasty Book Tours,
Edelweiss, and Avon publishing. The review given and all opinions expressed herein are mine, and have in no way been influenced by outside parties.

Profile Image for Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe).
1,625 reviews478 followers
October 1, 2016
2.5 stars

This just did not hold my attention. I didn't enjoy the setting or the story, and the heroine made so many problems for herself. The hero had problems asserting himself, and the conflict didn't work for me.
December 22, 2015
The heroine was such a pain for two thirds of the book, I was tempted to give this 2 stars. Thankfully, everyone came to their senses before I lost it.
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