Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #3
Hero: Martín Etienne Bouchard
Heroine: Sarah Fisher
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Started On: September 16, 2019
Finished On: September 26, 2019
Scandalous by Minerva Spencer is the much anticipated and awaited third installment in The Outcasts series. The hero, Martín Etienne Bouchard is a character that has intrigued readers of the series for a long while. Martín is exotic in a way that is hard to put into words (Spencer has no such difficulties), but there is an impact his character makes on you from the very first moment you lay your eyes on him.
It is during one of Martín’s missions that he comes across the strait-laced Sarah Fisher, who has been brought up in a religious household, who had basically found her calling in helping the less fortunate. Sarah has never known anyone like Martín and she does not particularly understand why it is difficult for her to keep her wits about the man.
24 years old and with relatively zero experience when it comes to pleasures of the flesh, that does not stop Sarah’s inquisitive mind from wanting to explore more when it comes to Martín and the way he makes her feel. However, that is not entirely possible given that Martín would like nothing better than keeping her as far away from him as possible.
Martín tries hard, and I mean really hard, to fight the spell that Sarah seems to have cast on him, to no avail. Giving in however does come at a price, at the cost of his past which makes a comeback, putting all that he holds in danger, and perhaps in the process make all his nightmares come true.
When I finished turning the last page of the story, I could understand some of the reviews that I had skimmed through, before this book landed in my hands via Netgalley. Martín is a character that has fascinated most readers like myself, who have gone through the last two books in the series. Yet, in his own book, Martín materializes to be half the man he has been projected to be, the man I have pictured in my mind for so long, especially when you connect the dots together.
I did enjoy the bits and pieces in the novel where Sarah was driving Martín mad with want and jealousy. There is a special kind of anticipation that runs through you when an author gets the tension factor just right and for the most part, Scandalous delivered that in spades. I also understood why Martín felt that the likes of Sarah weren’t for the likes of him, a man who has a sullied past, a past that shames him, even though it has in a large way shaped him to be the man he is.
My disappointment in the story stemmed from the fact that Martín and Sarah spends so much more time apart than they did together throughout the story. The second book in the series, Barbarous was so wonderful in this regard, and perhaps my favorite installment in the series altogether. Now that, proved to be a breathtaking read, and to catch glimpses of the couple in this story was just as good.
But the moment that a couple from a previous book does more to a reader than the actual protagonists of the story is where things start to head south in my opinion. For a man like Martín, who is a hedonist in many senses, to read a book where he fell in love with a woman with whom he had very little contact in the physical sense, someone whom he tried to keep at a willful distance all throughout was a bit jarring.
That was out of character. Perhaps that was what Ms. Spencer was going for and if that is what she intended, she has achieved what she set out to do. But for me, I like a character who keeps true to his nature, someone who does not start doing the opposite of the very thing that is in his nature to do from the moment the heroine/hero enters their life.
Though Sarah was crafted in a way that should have made her a favorite, she just did not elicit the kind of love and warmth in my heart for her she deserved, because I quite could not relate to her on anything. While she seemed lovely and driven by noble causes, I just could not seem to muster up the enthusiasm that was required to fall for her. Perhaps once again this circles back to Martín, I always saw him as someone bolder than what he was in this novel and envisioned him ending up with someone who is his equal, in every sense of the way. I failed to see Sarah as that in the long term.
Even though Scandalous (which turned out to be not so much) did not live up to my expectations (perhaps this is where everything went downhill), I am still excited about Gabriel’s story. I hope Gabriel materializes to have the fire, humour, and warmth of his mother, and dominance that comes from his father’s lineage, without the cruelty in the mix.
Final Verdict: While Scandalous delivered on many fronts, what I had hoped for Martín did not materialize from within. I wanted more for him. Much more.
“Do you even know what bargain you made?”
“I am not ignorant in such matters. I know what I have agreed to.” Her voice was low and breathy and made him throb.
He chuckled at her bravado. “Oh, I doubt that, mademoiselle.” He tongued the tender flesh between her neck and collarbone before stopping over the pulse that pounded at the base of her throat. She was so fine-grained and smooth; he had a burning need to consume her.
The rough pad of his thumb rested against the satin seam of her mouth, and her lids flickered open, her eyes wide and confused. He pressed and her lips parted. Her chest rose and fell in ragged jerks, and her eyes became almost black. Martín held his breath as he waited, wondering what she would do.
The first touch of her tongue was so light he barely felt it, but the slight graze of her teeth as she took him into the incredible softness of her mouth made him gasp. Her eyes never left his, and the sight of her fragile pink lips stretched around him made him so hard it hurt.
A hand grazed the bare skin of her thighs, and Sarah startled. The voice that had been muffled by desire rose again to the surface. He’d managed to insinuate himself beneath her skirts without her even noticing.
“Martín,” he murmured, taking her lower lip in his mouth and gently sucking it before running a path of kisses across her cheek, stopping at her ear. “Say it,” he ordered softly.
The name fit him perfectly—exotic and beautiful.
He cupped her sex over the fine fabric, the touch of his hand shocking yet somehow right. Sarah dropped her forehead on his shoulder, a sob of pleasure breaking from her.
“Shh, ma belle, I will give you what you need.” He gently stroked a single finger into her.
Sarah bucked violently and bit his shoulder to keep from crying out.
“You are drenched.” His voice was hoarse, as if he were having trouble speaking.
Sarah felt the same, incapable of saying anything, incapable of thinking anything, incapable of doing anything other than shuddering each time he stroked.
“And this?” He pointed to something else on the page.
His hair was made up of hundreds of shades of gold, each strand so thick she could see the hairs individually.
He turned when she didn’t answer, and Sarah found herself staring into eyes the color of old gold. She would later tell herself that she leaned closer to get a better look at those eyes and he misunderstood the action.
His arms snaked around her, and he bent her body into an almost painful arch with the force of his embrace. He captured her mouth, parted her lips, and stroked into her in one fluid motion. She sucked his tongue deeper and he moaned before tightening his grip on her body until she gasped.
She looked up at the sound of her name.
“Take me in your hand.”
She wrapped her palm around him, and they both gasped.
“Bloody hell.” He slumped back against the wardrobe door with a thump. One of his hands closed around hers, making her fingers into a tight fist, far tighter than she would have believed pleasant. He guided her, demonstrating how to pleasure him. A low growl broke from him when he released her and she continued her stroking, her eyes riveted to the sight of so much masculine arousal in her hand.
Sarah wanted to run from the cabin at his words, but his eyes held her in place. She let her thumb drift over one nipple, and it hardened instantly. She gasped at the unexpected sensation of pleasure.
He muttered something and closed the distance between them in a blur. His hot, soft mouth covered the stiff peak, his hands replacing hers. He commenced stroking her far more skillfully than she had with her awkward fumbling, using his tongue and fingers to tease, his teeth to nip, his lips to suck, until she was floating somewhere outside her body.
“I can’t stop now, Sarah,” he gritted, his hands digging into the flesh of her hips. She pushed herself against him, thrilling at the effect she had on his body.
The raw power of his climax was unlike anything she could have imagined. He held her hips in an unbreakable grip, shouting her name before abruptly leaving her body and spending himself in hot ribbons across her belly.