I was not a fan of the previous books in this series so I almost passed on this one but I'm really glad I didn't. Love in the Time of Scandal was an enjoyable read, with both H/h being rather believable characters and a romance that made sense and was well developed. The dialogue had some very good moments, reminiscent of Ms. Linden's early books. The villain was a bit over the top but I was able to suspend my disbelief and buy into the fact that it made the romance work that much better. There was a lot about the complicated core/backstory around which this whole series turns and that might make it a bit confusing for someone who hasn't read the earlier books but that problem aside, this was a fun read. There are a lot of really bad historical romances out there which barely make an effort to provide the feel or the historical atmosphere -- that is not the case here. There is historical atmosphere to go with the good writing and decent editing. Finally, I was delighted to find Ms. Linden back on form and look forward to her next story!
I remember parts of the earlier novel in Caroline Linden's Scandal series, the one about the heroine's sister. You don't need to read it to enjoy Love in the Time of Scandal. There's enough background to inform readers and Penelope's story is much better than her sister's.
Penelope Weston is a great heroine, one who can be stubborn but learns from her mistakes and one who is fiercely loyal (perhaps too loyal) to friends and relatives. It is her unwavering loyalty though which lands her in a serious predicament. At a ball she is accosted by her friend's enemy and who should save the day but her own personal nemesis Benedict Lennox. Penelope is grateful but dismayed that Benedict was the one to assist her in her time of need, especially since she is certain he is courting her new friend without engaging his feelings.
Benedict is not overly fond of Penelope, he considers her a busybody and too outspoken and adventurous. Yet he still is attracted to her, so when he rescues her from an evil man, he looks at Penelope in a whole new light. He is a pragmatic man and he needs to marry an heiress, Penelope will fit the bill.
Benedict and Penelope are a good match though neither one recognizes it at first. Benedict needs a fiercely steadfast heart and Penelope has one. He needs someone who is brave and forthright, that's Penelope too. Penelope needs a man who is faithful, that's Benedict in spades and one who is kind, also Benedict. Both have their faults, Penelope tries to manage too much and Benedict is too reticent with his feelings but both leads overcome these obstacles with the support of the other.
I really liked this couple. They didn't keep secrets for too long and they were incredibly passionate and affectionate. The one hiccup in this story is Penelope's friend with all the secrets. She is stubborn to a fault, putting Penelope in danger by not trusting her friend with the truth. She did not deserve such loyalty from Penelope. Otherwise this book is a winner. There are a couple of surprises and the leads were a dynamic couple with very fine dialogue.
I ordered this book months ago and have to say that I was a little disappointed. I had read the previous book, which was also disappointing but I hoped that was a glitch and this would be better. I was keen to catch up on this H who'd been pursuing the h's sister in the last book. As others have said, I just didn't buy why the h hated the H and for so much of the book too. I also didn't love the way he didn't choose to pursue the h before and so she came off as being someone he settled for. I love Ms Linden's books usually and the first (Love and Other Scandals) but this just wasn't up to her usual standards.
Overall, it wasn't terrible, but it just lacked a certain something. I definitely wouldn't read as a stand alone because the previous storyline is mentioned quite frequently. The plotline felt very rushed and there wasn't a lot of dialogue, but oh there was a ton of inner dialogue...like pages. I found myself skimming. I wish there had been more witty banter between Penelope and Ben. I'm just kind of meh about this book. I thought more about her friend Olivia and her brother Jaime and what was going to happen than I did for the H/HH of this story.
I didn't expect to like this, because the heroine in the last book was a bit of a flibbertigibbet, but apparently she had hidden talents. The Hero, also was a bit reticent in the past. Together, they make a formidable team and the romance is scrumptious. There are some nasty things happening in this book, but the h and H will weather all. So? I changed my mind. This is a truly wonderful read, so go for it.
I almost stopped reading this book after only a couple of chapters. Penelope was everything I dislike in a romance heroine, including brash and immature. All of a sudden she changed and I started liking her. I like the hero, Benedict, who was a product of that era. I thought the book was well written, a good story line.