RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

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Title: Love and Other Scandals
Author: Caroline Linden
Publication Info: Avon July 2013
ISBN: 978-0062244871
Genre: Historical: European

Book Love and Other Scandals This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Mochabean. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

Joan Bennet is tired of being a wallflower. Thanks to some deliciously scandalous—and infamous—stories, she has a pretty good idea of what she's missing as a spinster. Is even a short flirtation too much to ask for?

Tristan, Lord Burke, recognizes Joan at once for what she is: trouble. Not only is she his best friend's sister, she always seems to catch him at a disadvantage. The only way he can win an argument is by kissing her senseless. He'd give anything to get her out of her unflattering gowns. But either one of those could cost him his bachelor status, which would be dreadful—wouldn't it?

And here is Mochabean's review:

Picture Han Solo and Princess Leia in a Regency historical, with well-written dialogue and a deliciously meta subplot about an erotic serial pamphlet passed around at balls and hidden in prayer books. There's verbal jousting and sarcasm and all the catnip that is a haters-to-lovers story. There's a “What Not to Wear” subplot and a “This Old House” subplot. There's a balloon ride and a fair lady's heart won via modern plumbing. As an added bonus, my least favorite trope is not there: no catty woman to serve as a foil to the overly sweet heroine. Yay book!

Joan Bennet (heh) meets the disreputable Viscount Tristan Burke when she's sent by her mother to roust her brother's sorry drunk ass out of bed. Tristan is a temporary guest at her brother's house, but his sarcastic and shirtless self is no match for her wits. Soon, he's calling her The Fury in his head and she's calling him Lord Boor to his face. Yeah, you see where this is going. Even as he's criticizing her appalling fashion choices (her mother encourages her to wear the latest fashions, which don't flatter her figure or her height) and she's berating his lack of manners, they are growing more and more intrigued with each other. Throw in some conveniently out of town parents, a fairy godmother aunt with an Italian tailor, and a hilariously hidden copy of a scandalous novel, and you have a near perfect romance.

One of the things that really works here is that Joan and Tristan are both interesting and unique, but not so much so that they become walking tropes themselves. Joan is smart and funny, and speaks her mind, but is still finding the confidence to go beyond the expected. Tristan is roguish enough to shock certain elements of polite society, but he's neither a duke of slut nor the alphahole hero, so it makes complete sense the Joan would fall in love with him, and he with her.

I also love how much fun the author is having playing with the book-within-the-book idea. Joan and her two friends (sisters and sequel bait) are all secretly reading a scandalous periodical called 50 Ways to Sin, which chronicles the amorous exploits of the mysterious “Lady Constance” and her endless parade of skilled lovers. It's like the 50 Shades/Flowers in the Attic/Forever of Regency England, and all the girls are secretly reading it, talking about it, and hiding it from their mothers.  But even better, while Tristan and Joan have wonderful chemistry, of course, Tristan is no domineering “now I will transform you with my Magic Wang” hero. He's sweet and considerate and appreciates Joan for all the right reasons.

This is not an angsty book, and there are no huge themes to grapple with. But it is not insubstantial. It's very well-written, charming, and extraordinarily fun to read.

Game of Thrones fan caveat: In the heat of the moment, Tristan says something along the lines of “by all the Gods” which I confess just made me laugh out loud. All I could think of was Joan gasping back “Seven Hells, don't stop!” Your mileage may vary of course.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | https://www.omnilit.com/product-loveandotherscandals-1244205-237.html?referrer=sbtb” target=”_blank”>All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    kkw says:

    I loved this book.

    Re: GoT caveat: I am having this problem all the time! The classical education swearing now totally sounds GoT to me – or Batman, by Jove. Still, better than ‘bloody’ which sets my teeth on edge in a Regency.

  2. 2
    Tam says:

    Huh, I don’t usually mind ‘bloody’ in Regencies – I figure that if the OED has it dated as far back as 1840s in print, it was probably in the vernacular for at least a few decades prior. It’s things like having one’s heroine say ‘I’m going to write Mother’ rather than ‘write TO Mother’ which bother me.

  3. 3
    CK says:

    You had me at

    Picture Han Solo and Princess Leia in a Regency

    . Curse you! ;)

  4. 4
    LauraL says:

    Caroline Linden is one of my favorites and I really enjoyed the second book in this series, It Takes a Scandal, too.

    Enjoyed the review, Mochabean. Picture Han Solo and Princess Leia sums up the story well. And, yay, modern plumbing!

  5. 5
    Darbi Bradley says:

    Loved this!

    My only problem was Tristian’s weird fashion genius. Where he can just TELL what colors are going to look good on Joan, and what he’d like her to wear. That seemed a bit odd and seemingly out of nowhere.

  6. 6
    Brynhild says:

    @Darbi: Yes, that’s puzzling me as well.

    I just got this yesterday and have to say, it’s hooked me. Tristan is a rake, but doesn’t seem like a complete alphole. I also really love how the main character is in society but questions it. It makes easier to accept actions and motivations in a society that is really unfair, but doesn’t come across as anachronistic. I’ve read a character or two in historicals that are obviously a ‘modern’ mind stuck into a historical body, someone who is so utterly enlightened that in the context, it becomes rather unbelievable. Despite being a self-professed liberal and feminist, it kind of bothers me when a historical character could easily just be a modern one playing dress-up. This isn’t coming out right, sorry. Anyone ever notice this too?

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