Caroline Linden is on my woefully short Fingers Crossed for Potential list. Last year, I stumbled upon her The Truth About the Duke trilogy and would recommend those books as follows: One Night in London is really good; Blame It on Bath worked well and was [fans self]; and The Way to a Duke’s Heart had a charming male lead, but some story issues. Linden’s latest historical romance, Love and Other Scandals got off to a great start, but lost its momentum due to structural choices.
Joan, the heroine of Love and Other Scandals , is a delight. Pert and cheeky, she has a wastrel brother with a very attractive, rascally friend, Tristan. The two are introduced, they banter, I wasn’t quite sure of the reasoning behind Tristan’s actions, but things proceeded apace when there was an abrupt shift in the story about a third of the way through. Have you seen Moonstruck? Do you remember the scene when Cher arrives at Lincoln Center to meet Nicolas Cage and the soundtrack includes a wry “ba-bum” as she steps out of the taxi and the love story proper begins? The transition in Love and Other Scandals is a lot like that, but instead of building on what went before, Linden reorganized the setting and the story lost its way. It’s not that it was horribly transformed, just disjointed, so, in spite of appealing leads, I can’t recommend the book.
On another note, Caroline Linden has a delightful short story, The Truth About Love, in a collection called Once Upon a Ballroom. Not about two people finding love, it’s a vignette in the life of a plain, bookish woman who has married a notorious former rake. Damien, the erstwhile rake and current besotted husband, has been away from Miranda for several weeks and rumours have begun to circulate of an affair. Prurient friends and relatives gather around Miranda, ostensibly to commiserate, but really to revel in saying, “I told you so.” Using Miranda’s perspective, it is a take on the happily ever after readers rarely see. Romance novels are full of overlooked spinsters discovering connubial bliss with gorgeous, fascinating men, but just how easily does a reputation die and how does a woman who has found herself the subject of unexpected male attention trust that he really is a reformed raking making the best husband? It was really enjoyable, so I did some research to see if The Truth About Love was an epilogue to one of Linden’s novels, but had no luck. If you happen to know of such a book, I’d be grateful for the title so I can review it and bump my Cannonball Read total from 61.5 to 62.