The first chapter of the historical romance It Takes a Scandal is akin to seminar on how to successfully create a sympathetic hero. Sebastian Vane has been stripped of everything he held dear and that will help him make his way in the world. Seriously injured fighting Napoleon (not personally), his mentally ill father is sinking daily into greater and more unmanageable derangement, but not before selling portions of the family estate for a pittance. Sebastian loses everything except his dignity and even that he holds onto by self-exile. There is no self-pity, just a man quietly retreating into himself and building a life as best he can from the remaining tatters.
Strong, kind, and generously be-dowered Abigail Weston moves into the house next to Sebastian. The Weston family has new money, pots of it, but no titles. I enjoy the old versus new money elements in historical romance because as a modern North American I respect and admire people who have built a better lives for themselves through hard work. At the time considered boorish upstarts, they had the advantage of not being shackled to limitations and demands of primogeniture. The Weston are self-made and even more unusual in romance, happy. They have their foibles and squabbles, but they love and protect each other. It’s a nice change, but back to the lovebirds…
Sebastian Vane is a tortured hero. Abigail Weston is the bright and curious heroine who brings him out of his shell. They meet accidentally and are immediately drawn to each other. Events conspire for and then against them before they come together. The plotting is logical and convincing*. The machinations reasonable for the genre. It Takes a Scandal is well-written and enjoyable, but it hit on a personal bone of contention as, frankly, I think I prefer a little more mileage on my heroines. Sebastian is darling and Abigail is lovely, but I’m not sure I want to read about her. She was a little too untried by life for my tastes.
Also from Caroline Linden’s Scandals series: Love and Other Scandals
Recommended Caroline Linden
which I will get around to reviewing:
*Captious Aside: Linden’s Scandals series has a running joke about an erotic publication that all of the young women are trying to get their hands on. It’s a monthly pamphlet they must scour the bookstores for and not get caught. Did such a thing really exist? I find it hard to believe and, while I appreciate the effort to bring greater sexual awareness to the inexperienced heroines, ready access to erotica seems extraordinarily unlikely.