Monday, July 29, 2013

Love and Other Scandals, by Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden is one of my favorite Romance authors, and the reason why is clear in one page of any of her novels. Her writing is intelligent, her characters strong, witty and yet vulnerable at the same time, and all of her stories come with a cast of characters each worth a story of their own. Love and Other Scandals is definitely not the exception to this rule.

Joan Bennet first meets Tristan Burke, Viscount Burke, when her brother Douglas brings him home for a school holiday. In a prologue worthy of an entire chapter, Linden sets the scene for the coming years, and the future interactions between an orphaned and unloved young Viscount and a headstrong, not quite fashionable young lady. The real story begins when Joan is 24, an almost "on the shelf" spinster with strong ties to her mother's unerringly strict rules of behavior and dress. At first, Tristan is intrigued by Joan's impertinence, and can't help but give back as good as he gets from her. As he spends more time with her at the behest of her brother Douglas (who I'm hoping gets a story of his own), things change, and what was once unattractive about Joan begins to draw Tristan nearer.

The story is more than the typical romance of this genre. In each other, both characters learn to accept themselves for what they are, while at the same time, growing in ways they hadn't imagined. Tristan learns that he is deserving of love and that his reputation does not have to define him. Joan learns that she doesn't have to depend on her mother for guidance, and that she can find her own voice, be it in the clothes she wears,  her choice in reading material (think 19th century version of 50 Shades of Grey), or the man she chooses to love.

Great characters, good story and a very lovely ending that is really a beginning for these two. Well done, Ms. Linden, as usual. Highly recommend.

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