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 Bean's review:
I have to start by confessing that I really enjoyed Caroline Linden's other books, particularly her Truth About the Duke series. Because of this, I went into this book with high expectations, and Ms. Linden didn't disappoint.
Joan Bennet is verging on spinsterhood when she meets Tristan, Lord Burke. Tristan has been friends with Joan's brother, Douglas, since school and while they've orbited each other for years, they haven't had many meaningful interactions. Joan knows Tristan as a rake and a scoundrel who leads her brother astray. Tristan thinks Joan is a Fury and a harping little sister. But as they are forced to spend more and more time together, they both realize that the other may be exactly what they're looking for.
I really love historical romances (it's the former history major in me) and I love it when an author incorporates non-traditional details in the book (Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan come to mind as authors who do this very well). In Love and Other Scandals, Tristan is a rake, but a scientifically minded rake. He invests in hot air balloons and indoor plumbing. While it's always lovely to hear about a hero and heroine riding through Hyde Park or going to Vauxhall Gardens, I think these unique little details expose a facet of history that really flesh out the story. They are details that make the world the characters are living in seem richer – and show that the author actually put some research into the details of the story.
Two things keep this book from an A review. The first is the conflict – or rather, the lack of conflict. Joan and Tristan have an antagonistic relationship that always stays firmly on the flirty end of the spectrum. He calls her a Fury; she thinks he's a rake. He insults her clothing choices, but never her actual person (he says her dress makes her look like a half opened umbrella, a description that made me laugh out loud on the subway). Once they both find their footing with each other, there really isn't anything standing in the way of their relationship except the vague threat that her parents don't approve of Tristan (a disapproval that just sort of … dissipates).
I also found the hero's Come to Jesus moment to be abrupt, probably because of the lack of conflict. Because there didn't really seem much keeping them apart, there was really no “ahah” moment. It wasn't that I didn't believe that the hero's feelings were genuine, it was just that I would have liked a little more of his thought process.
That being said, Love and Other Scandals was still very enjoyable. It was fun and light, a perfect getaway read. Sometimes, you're just looking for a book with likeable characters and a happy ending and that's exactly what this book is. This is the first book in the Scandals series, revolving around a scandalous pamphlet 50 Ways to Sin that is making it's way through genteel ladies.
The second book in the series, It Takes A Scandal is already out (and also delightful!). One of Linden's strengths is creating secondary characters that the reader is interested in, and it's why her other series are so enjoyable. Joan's two best friends, the Weston sisters, are both well-rounded and independent characters – not just background dressing. Joan's Aunt Evangeline is a bit of a caricature as the permissive and eccentric chaperone, but has just enough nuance (and her own mysterious romance) to keep her just on the right side of believable. Douglas Bennet, Joan's brother and Tristan's friend, is a particularly interesting character that appears only in the first part of the book before dashing off to the family's country estate. I'd imagine there's a story there, and I'm hoping it's coming! All in all, I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
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