Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting–and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.
It says something about the quality of the author’s witty writing that I was happy to overlook to wallpapery aspects of this story to enjoy the book. Season for Scandal is part of a series, and while you’ll know previous featured couples when they appear on the page, you also don’t need to have read past books to understand and enjoy this one.
At the start I was worried. Wallpaper historical romances feature American-style characters masquerading as members of England’s upper classes in the early nineteenth century. All the pretty dresses without the burdens of the culture and lifestyle of the day. At first glance this book holds many elements of historical inaccuracy, especially the heroine who gallivants unchaperoned all about the place, holds private meetings with men she isn’t related to, and is working to gain her independence from men.
However Season for Scandal is actually written within a well-researched version of Regency England that also takes liberties with language; these characters speak contemporary English (the never-ending use of ‘gotten’ will make non-Americans weep). Usually these liberties annoy me, but somehow author Theresa Romain has created a consistent, entertaining world and I really liked the book.
I’m not a huge fan of the plain heroine-gorgeous, charismatic hero pairing, as it’s not particularly believable, and smacks of hypocrisy. Yet this very theme was handled so well here; there’s no immediate transition from marriage of convenience to love match. I liked that the two characters wanted very different things from each other, and that by the end they’d found a way to be very happy together, despite nothing working the way they expected.
It’s so hard to judge Regency stories by the packaging, as they run the gamut from serious to silly. Theresa Romain’s formula worked for me, and I definitely look forward to reading more of her books.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.