More than 20 years ago, Pippin and Dash fell in love but were separated by circumstances beyond
their control. In an effort to save the American privateer, Captain Thomas Dashwell, from imprisonment
or possible death, Pippin married another, becoming the prim and proper Lady Gossett. Now in her early
forties and widowed, Pippin learns that Dash needs her help again. His grown son, Nathaniel, leads her
to believe that Dash is dying and only Pippin can save him. After leaving her London home and joining
the crew on his ship, Pippin learns that Dash has become a drunken lout who blames her for marrying
someone else, even though it spared his life.
These two characters were introduced earlier in the highly acclaimed Bachelor Chronicle novels†
Love Letters From a
Duke†and†Confessions of a Little Black Gown (also
reviewed on Myshelf)†
in which Pippinís female cousins look for love. Those same cousins also play a role in†Memoirs of
A Scandalous Red Dress.
In a series of flashbacks that go throughout the entire book, readers learn secrets that Pippin and
Dash have been hiding from each other. Each new scene from onboard the Ellis Anne in 1837 prompts a
flashback to 1814 London where they secretly courted and fell in love with each other. Judging by their
disastrous reunion, it seems unlikely that the pair can ever fully get past the lies of their
past—even with the help of the loyal crew and the magic of her notorious red dress.
Best-selling author Elizabeth Boyleís newest novel isnít an easy, breezy historical romance to occupy
an afternoon on the beach. The constant flashbacks and jolting journeys back to the present may frustrate
some readers by destroying the preceding romantic tension. While not giving away too many of the bookís
secrets, itís safe to say that the tale itself is tragic, for lovers are kept apart for more than two
decades, and relatives have separate lives without even knowing of each otherís existence. Pippin the
martyr and Dash the masochist donít make the most likable lead characters, and their frequent
internalized messages from dead friends and relatives (her dead "aunt" and his dead first mate) add to
the distraction factor. The straightforward story of Pippin and Dash (at only one point in time) without
the lengthy flashbacks and interjections from dead mentors might have made this a much more enjoyable
book for linear-loving readers.