Sunday 19 April 2015
#CBR7 Book 43: "It Started with a Scandal" by Julie Anne Long
Rating: 3.5 stars
Miss Elise Fountain used to be a teacher at the school for wayward girls in Pennyroyal Green, but was fired after she spoke inappropriately to one of the patrons. Now she's managed to get a recommendation from the powerful Redmond family and is desperate to secure a position as housekeeper to the formidable Lord Philippe Lavay, an exiled Bourbon prince recovering from a near-fatal robbery in the village. He gives her a two week trial, expecting she will be gone before one has passed.
Elise, who was estranged from her parents when she foolishly got pregnant, hides her six year old son in the attic and sets out to get the prince's household in order. The remaining servants seem to range from the lazy to the downright sinister, but a combination of threats and flattery, Elise soon have most of them doing exactly what she wants them to. Soon the house is actually habitable and comfortable again, and she sets out to discover why Lord Lavay is acting more like a lion with a thorn in his paw than an honourable gentleman. Discovering the extent to his injuries, she's compelled to help him heal and with every passing day, the housekeeper and the nobleman grow closer and closer.
Janine, one of the reviewers for Dear Author, had this marked down as a DNF (Did Not Finish). She had a long list of reasons why she just couldn't enjoy the book, and I can see her point, even though I did enjoy this quite a bit. So many of the Pennyroyal Green books require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, and there is absolutely all sorts of anachronisms in them. There are many questions about the plot that should bother me - how did Elise, with a child out of wedlock, get a teaching position at a school for wayward girls? How did she secure a recommendation from a family she's never worked for? How is she, the daughter of a gentleman, who has previously only worked as a teacher, quite such a naturally gifted housekeeper? Why do none of the servants, who all start out wanting Elise removed from her position, tell their employer that Elise has a bastard child? How is it that Lord Lavay, an exiled French aristocrat, has no misgivings about Elise's character, even after he discovers that Elise's illegitimate son is living under his roof?
And you know what - I'm not all that bothered. Julie Anne Long writes wonderful smoulder and always has great interactions between her romantic protagonists. Is it in any way plausible that an exiled French prince trying to recapture his fortunes gives up all his dreams for the future because of his infatuation with a disgraced single mother? Probably not. But I don't really read romance for the realism, but for the entertainment and escapism it offers me. So if the things I've mentioned will bother you, you'd be better off skipping this one. If you just want a diverting read that takes your mind off other things for a few hours, you could do worse. Of course, you could read one of Long's really great novels instead, like What I Did for a Duke. I won't judge.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.