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A Note of Scandal by Nicky Penttila


Product Description

What’s the harm in a little white lie?

Especially when it could carry so much good—a new life for a wounded soldier, catharsis after long years of war, and an opportunity for lady composer Olivia Delancey to finally hear her music played in public.

Newspaper publisher Will Marsh refuses to compound the sins of his father’s generation by taking money to print propaganda. But with the end of the wars in France and America, he needs something new to drive Londoners to grab his paper first. Why not publish the score of the “Tune That Took Waterloo,” by a wounded vet, no less?

As Olivia struggles to keep her secrets from this unsuitably alluring publisher, and Will fights to find the truth without losing his hold on this bright-eyed angel who has descended into his life, both discover another sort of truth.

Being the talk of London can be bad—or very, very good.



Olivia’s face mirrored her surprise. She had lost track of him for only a moment, and yet he had snuck all the way up on her. Had he caught her surreptitiously watching him?
“The music does not inspire you?” He gestured at Rosa, but his gaze remained on her.
“It does,” she said, trying to pull on her familiar careless-girl mask. “I must ask after her tailor.”
“That sentiment isn’t worthy of you.” He whispered, but he could have spoken aloud, as little attention as anyone was paying them in the midst of Rosa’s aggressive arpeggios. “Jealous?”
Her mask faltered. “I did not mean it so.”
“Then how?” He slipped to her other side, effectively cutting her off from Mr. Mellon, who did not seem to notice. Too close. She took a step to the side, turning to face her interlocutor.
“She is part of our family now.” Her voice sounded breathy, unsure.
“I heard you arranged this performance.” He stepped closer. “That shows a spirit of generosity, despite your words.”
“She deserves the opportunity. And it is right to salute Spain.”
“Our esteemed ally.” He nodded, leaning in. “But perhaps it is difficult, to see a woman who is allowed the freedom to perform, to create? Who can let her hair down in mixed company?”
He looked away from her a moment, gazing at Rosa. Olivia did not dare look away from him. She let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Her mind was addled; she was reacting too strongly to this man, to his words. To his smell, deep and rich. Sandlewood, but hints of the flesh within.
The corner of his mouth turned up. He teased her? The thought cast out her breath again. Her ears had a buzzing in them, unrelated to the passionate rhythm of the guitar.
He could read her. He saw far too much. She reached out to touch him, no, to push him away. He turned at her movement, stepping into the path of her hand.
A thrill of power coursed through her arm. It filled her center with energy of an unfamiliar sort. Unable to stop herself, she jumped. Then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw.
She could never make a scene. Not here in public. She took another step back, pulling her hands tightly behind her, as if they were tied.
Step by step, they sidled to the side of the great room. Toward the shadows.

“Are you disappointed your fiancé found someone else?”
“It isn’t that.” She was not quite sure she could call up a vision of Richard at the moment. Her awareness was centered on the man in front of her.
They passed the seven-foot-high sterling candelabra and into the shadows, far from the crowd. Olivia would not have believed she could feel so alone in the midst of a gala. Alone, but for one other.


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  3. Review From "Long Ago Love - Historical Romance Blog" 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 10th Jul 2013

    Set in post-Napoleonic England, the lives of William Marsh and Olivia Delancey intertwine in unforeseen circumstances between newspaper reels, music sheets and political speeches. With 246 juicy- pages, it is another must-read for this hot-summer season to make your hearts race!

    A Note of Scandal is based on the events of Summer of 1814 in England, when Napoleon has just been defeated for the second time is and he surrendered to the British. When the British economy is coming to terms with the war expenses and thousands and British men, have returned home either in coffins, decorated with a medal or broken. The future of the middle-class men seems rather bleak and many are those seeking reforms in the wake of industrialisation.

    Whilst the Lords are still thinking about the Emperor or have left the city to visit their summer country houses, a newspaper battle ensues between The Register and The Beacon.

    It is in the light of this scenario that Nicky Penttila succeeds to weave an interesting and consuming novel between two people with different backgrounds and different passions in life.

    William Marsh is a late-twenty-something publisher of the newspaper The Beacon. His only purpose in life is to follow in his father's footsteps whilst side-stepping his mistakes - to tell the truth at all costs. A true journalist he is always seeking a scoop and does not rely on common sources for his articles. His management of the newspaper made him successful and is highly regarded even by Lords. William Marsh knew the power of words and of the publishing industry.

    Olivia Delancey on the other hand is a 24 year-old maiden lady. Her father has no male heirs and his political career has ruined the family treasures. With an almost barren house, her passion is music and her prospect to marry her cousin Richard who is bound to inherit her family's estate. Olivia though is very intelligent and kind-hearted. She never backs away from a challenge and is always scheming. When two of her friends find themselves in trouble, she is the one that comes to their rescue with a seemingly brilliant plan.

    Women at the time were considered as beautiful and were regarded enchanting enough to make small talk with; however they were not reputed 'creative' and the possibility of a woman writing a book or composing a piece of music was almost blasphemous. Our heroine Olivia Delancey; challenges this stoic post-Napoleonic, male-dominated society and makes her musical tunes famous by publishing them under a friend's name. Her life becomes tangled up with the future of her friends and her new indirect boss and love interest.

    However, enough with the plot as I don't want to provide any spoilers; this book is enchanting and gripping from the very first page. Beautifully written, the reader is engulfed with the plight of the returned soldiers and their futures but also with the struggle that women face when they are continuously considered 'less' than men.

    It is a passion driven novel that has a rather fast paced plot with various twists and array of characters and detailed descriptions. Nicky Penttila vividly portrays England of the early 18th century not so much in a 'Dickens' way with a focus on the poor but more on the rise of the middle class and the learnt men with no title. Immediately the discourse in the Ale House is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel and in a similar fashion, the women of this novel are strong, yet tender and compassionate who do not aspire the impossible but work within their limits (given the social limits) to better their futures.

    It is a novel of hope with three-dimensional characters that one immediately takes a likening to from the early pages. With no real villain and no specific heroes; the novel offers a variety of surprises maybe not so much in the development of the plot itself but rather in the character's growth. In fact whilst I personally loved the story and I was also particularly captured and interested in the character developments. I was also pleased that secondary characters were given ample space to talk and to develop as well. This novel is as much about the historical context as it is about the romance. In fact I was pleased to find a manner of courtship between characters that whilst true to its time it was also very human and down to earth. The relationship between the men and women is all about passion and love with enough romanticism as there is realism both in their physical gestures as well in the speech.

    If it wasn't clear from my review yet, I given this book a 5 Crowns - Sovereign Queen of Historical Love rating as it was surprisingly interesting and I couldn't put it down easily. It is long enough to provide you with a good amount of pleasurable reading and it is engaging instantly. I wish Nicky Penttila the best of luck and I hope to see this book on the silver screen in the future as I do think a 'live' rendition would be appreciated by many.

  4. From Romantic Historical Lovers blog 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 16th Aug 2012

    I loved Nicky Penttila’s writing. She seamlessly weaves her extensive historical research into this story. The story is filled with great characters. Her knowledge of the Regency period, music and the press is impressive.

    A NOTE OF SCANDAL is not your usual Regency romance. The hero, Will Marsh, while extremely attractive and eminently decent, is not an aristocrat, but the story-line handles this imbalance well. The heroine, Olivia Delancey is a baron’s daughter, and no longer a young society miss, her come-out was years ago. Now, at twenty-five, after her long engagement to her father’s heir ends, it looks increasingly likely that despite being a beauty, she will either be left on the shelf or married off to someone she loathes by her politically astute and ruthless father. Her eccentric parents are obsessed with each other – a nice touch by Penttila, for they are delightfully well drawn characters – and neglectfully affectionate to their daughter, allowing her more freedom than most young ladies of the period enjoyed, while sometimes becoming quite heartless and cruel.

    Olivia struggles with her attraction to Will Marsh who carries a wound from his past, complicating matters. She is good-hearted and a highly talented composer who wishes to improve the lot for others while writing stirring musical scores, which as a woman, she can never claim as her own. This desire leads her into a decision which could bring her whole world crashing down, when she must lie to bring her music to the attention of society.

    While this novel might be labeled more a historical with romantic elements, than a straight historical romance, there was enough romance to keep a lover of the genre like me interested.

    About me: I’m a writer and an avid reader of historical romance and romantic suspense. After reading Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt in my teens I developed a lifelong love of English-set historical romance.

    From Romantic Historical Lovers blog, http://romantichistoricallovers.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/a-note-of-scandal-nicky-penttila-5/

  5. Review from The Season blog 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 16th Aug 2012

    What can be done post-Waterloo when soldiers are scattered about the streets of London and lying shattered in the wards of its hospitals with little or no future? And, there’s love to be saved?

    Improvise, then lie.

    But all for a good cause. And that’s the clever premise of Nicky Penttila’s newest novel, ‘A Note of Scandal.’ With a well-drawn cast of characters who aptly represent and execute the story’s plots and subplots, Penttila draws readers into the music halls, publishing offices, half-empty estates and festering hospital wards where machinations of all sorts are afoot and interwoven creating a story that makes readers want to cheer, revolt, weep and hope.

    Olivia Delancey is the talented, kind-hearted, overlooked and ultimately frustrated daughter given up for spinster hood by her annoyingling selfish and negligent parents set upon selling everything in order to curry favor and win her father a seat in Parliament. Thrown over by cousin Richard Avery for Spanish wife, Rosa, Olivia refocuses her efforts in her secret music composing which proves a beginning and end for her and the friend (Lt. Martin Purdy) whom she tries to help by it.

    Lt. Martin Purdy, the broken but good-natured soldier who played Olivia’s tune– a military march said to inspire on the battlefield at Waterloo – The Tune That Took Waterloo – is smitten with Merry Buckham but the only chance of marrying her is to have money. Something hard to come by amongst the thousands of veterans now unemployed. Spurned by her fiancée, Olivia still believes in the cause of love and is willing to help others achieve what has eluded her. So Olivia offers Martin a plan. Following a conversation about how he played one of her tunes on the battlefield at Waterloo, Olivia unleashes an plan that she hopes will help them both – sell Martin’s compelling story of playing, The Tune That Took Waterloo on the battlefield (truth), bring attention to the plight of veterans (needed) and then take credit as the composer (the lie). For Olivia, it’s a chance to earn Martin a living and her to give an audience to her compositions while highlighting the wounded soldiers. This particular aspect underscores the accepted role of women during that time period – that of wives and mothers and certainly not as composers or business women. But Olivia is determined to rise above it even if another must be given credit and the funds.

    Olivia with renewed vigor and purpose and always trying to make the best of things especially when directed by her parents to sell off yet more furniture or another portion of their Plymouth estate, sees an opportunity for her and Martin. Turned down several times, she finally secures the printing of her musical score and Martin’s story at The Beacon headed by publisher Will Marsh. Embroiled in his own family tug-of-war over newspaper control (this is London afterall) and captivated by Olivia, he squelches his newspaperman’s instinct that there’s something more to the story than her helping a friend as she debuts The Tune That Took Waterloo in a public concert. With its success and stories being printed and calls for more music, things unravel quickly for Olivia.

    The premise of the story is different and fits the time period well with scene detail and very good dialogue but a couple of the subplots felt a bit disembodied though this could have been due to editing. Olivia’s father’s political aspirations are laid out at the start but not Will’s. While he and Olivia have embarked on a relationship – thanks to unmistakable chemistry – and he questions his own desires and abilities to keep The Beacon, his own potential in Parliament begins to surface which is somewhat jarring as it appears a convenient exit strategy from the newspaper. His talented artistry in sketching is noted on sighting and observing Napoleon’s ship anchored in Plymouth and yet that is left unexplored. With so much happening though, only so much can be done and Penttila’s deft inter-weaving of events and a large group of personalities is very well done.

    Nonetheless, the feelings between Olivia and Will feel real and his struggle with her deception honest. What was harder was how terribly hard the people closest to Olivia were on her as they found out. Which means Penttila did a good job as we care and want to stand up in Olivia’s defense! She begins to rectify this by displaying more of the bravado of her composer self by explaining then publicizing, her wish to help not only Martin but the soldiers in their struggles to survive in a post-war world. Too, the matter of Avery and his wife Rosa felt like a dangling modifier that was a peripheral or perhaps a set up for what women could achieve. We’re left hanging as we see Rosa perform, men faint at her passionate playing and Olivia torn as she must weigh an invitation to join her on tour throughout Europe. The tension between the two women is nicely played and an uneasy peace forged between the two.

    Still, we deeply feel her frustration at everyone, everything and her pain – right reason, wrong way – and the chain of events set off as the vicious rival paper, The Register – begins to intimate the deception surrounding the The Tune That Took Waterloo. Readers will also want to throttle Olivia’s ridiculous parents, Richard Avery and the ungrateful Merry who is ultimately exposed as a shrew and cry for the broken Martin who is ultimately given a new start in life by the delightful lawyer, Mr. Swizzlewit who also happens to be a dwarf though huge on heart and intelligence.

    Penttila has given readers a distinct story with a wide palette of characters and roles that are well-drawn and displayed by their dialogue and actions, nice period details that bring us into the post-Waterloo setting and give voice to the emerging role of women and veterans wrapping it up nicely in a novel that spans an impressive array of emotions.

    Heat-Level: 2.5 (Mild/Sensual)
    From The Season blog, http://theseasonforromance.com/wordpress/2012/08/review-a-note-of-scandal-by-nicky-pienttila/

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