I had known that A Scandal for Stratton was going to have it difficult as far as the expectations went as it’s preceding story, An Affair for Aument set the bar so very high for any book that followed it. If I could have given that novel a 10 I would have, it was that magnificent.
In An Affair for Aument, a brilliantly written novel, it captures the best of all the characters of every story, who, for all their vagaries in station and personality, form a odd collective of friends bound by events and relationships. Their stories naturally form the basis and universe for The Lords of Bucknall Club series, one I’m deeply fond of.
This book has its own different elements , focuses, and characters that have existed on the outskirts of that circle. A character like Stratton, earning a meager mention or two as a horse seller in all prior books, is now one of the main characters.
A aspect that makes this more a novel that , like it’s men, something that resides just a bit on the edge of the group. In that universe, but very much it’s own different book.
I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it very much. I appreciated the writing but wasn’t finding the deep joy I had in the others. At least until almost until the end.
All the other books were very much within the Regency Romance format while the authors gave them narratively brilliant twists with a new rule on same sex marriages, all still keeping the same cultural rules, gossiping Ton, adding in mystery, exceptional humor and romance. And each book was centered within keeping a character driven storyline. Amazing.
Honestly those books are on constant replay.
Immediately you notice the missing dry wit and humor the preceding stories are noted for. In its place is sexuality . It’s the scandalous stories, The Maiden Diaries, being written by “Anonymous “ that have been discussed all Season. It’s also the D/s pain kink sexual relationship that’s key to the dynamics between the Earl of Stratton, James and his estate manager, Harold. It’s explicit. From whipping, spanking , the huge list of pain kink is introduced here in a way it’s not in any of the other stories.
If BDSM ,D/s, pain kink relationships aren’t your thing, this is not your story. It’s a major element. That’s most of the book and the characters relationship. Again, a departure from the previous books.
There’s no mystery. A simple case of blackmail stemming from a rather nasty brother back from abroad with a large sense of entitlement ( pun intended) who wants the estate and title of Earl of Stratton.
The fun, wit, and liveliness only enters the story with the entry of The Bucknall Club gang, plus the indomitable Lady Rebecca , who gather together to save the day. That’s about 80 percent in. So a fairly long slog without a glint of lightness.
I really missed them Especially Soulden with his wicked sense of humor.
For me, the story sank into my heart when all the Bucknall Club characters were engaged by Harold to help with the blackmail. From there, we got a balanced storyline with strong character driven plot lines, fabulous dialogue full of humor and wry heartfelt commentary on the Ton and society. All our favorites, with their engaging dynamics were there, encircling James and Harold, with their compassion, kindness, and unique outlook, pulling them into the circle of the group.
Of enormous impact is the compassionate Warry , along with Chant, who endeavor to help James with their social anxiety, their other issues and offers of friendship. How I adore that crew.
The last section helps with my connection to the main couple. It includes a far better understanding of the personality and character of James as they try to recover from the shattering events that free them from their brother. It’s also a far clearer picture into the dynamics between James and Harold as they weigh their future and try to get back to the stability they had enjoyed before everything fell apart.
The main couple themselves fracturing, getting a new, deeper exploration of what has made their relationship work, James trying to resolve the emotional turmoil the painful past that his brother has awakened, as well as all the damaging fallout it’s caused, this section of the story brings everything back into The Lords of Bucknall territory in an amazing way.
However, while all the other couples got their HFN in a satisfying manner, I can’t help but feel that James and Harold were still in recovery, trying to see where they and their relationship went next, if it could handle the next stages of growth Harold needed.
Satisfying? That will depend on the reader.
For me, A Scandal for Stratton is an extremely well written book, one that exists more as an addendum to the series The Lords of Bucknall Club then as strictly a part of it. It’s strongly character driven, with its main relationship bases around a BDSM D/s pain oriented dynamic that’s constantly being explored throughout the storyline.
James’s tortured persona is beautifully done as is Harold’s dominating character. Each is layered with their painful histories driving them together, despite their differences in societal levels.
The structure of a Regency romance, so apparent in the others, is what’s missing here for me. Most of the time, with the few exceptions that James does visit the Club (very few) the book could be lifted into another historical series . That is until we’re almost done.
If you’re a fan of the series, I’m recommending this on several levels. It’s a terrific story. It enlarges on a bit character we only heard about in passing. All those horses that Warry always wanted from Stratton. Now we know who he was referring to.
We also get to see our beloved characters again as they gather to save the day, hilarious solutions not withstanding. Not a goat to be seen however. I was very sad about this. Not that type of book which is telling.
And if you’re a fan of J.A. Rock’s other novels which do have a major BDSM element, then this is exactly the book and couple for you.
I think this does see an end to the series. I’m ok with that. I felt it had a brilliant send off in An Affair for Aument.
There’s nothing indicating the authors will go forward with another story.
So I’m absolutely recommending to all what I consider the foundation series, books 1 through 5, and as a addendum, with a note about the BDSM content, pick up the sixth novel if you’re interested in learning about who was selling those horses and writing The Maiden Diaries!
Series – The Lords of Bucknall Club
✓ A Husband for Hartwell #1
✓ A Case for Christmas #2
✓ A Rival for Rivingdon #3
✓ A Sanctuary for Soulden #4.
✓ A Affair for Aument #5
✓ A Scandal for Stratford
Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.