Source: publisher via Edelweiss (thank you, Avon, for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review).
Genre: historical romance.
Penelope Weston does not like Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton. He may be the suave and charming heir to an earl, as well as the most handsome man on earth, but she can’t forget how he abandoned a friend in need—nor how he once courted her sister, Abigail. He’s the last man she would ever marry. If only she didn’t feel so attracted to the arrogant scoundrel…
Once upon a time, Benedict thought he and Penelope got along rather well. Though he needs a wealthy bride to escape his cruel father’s control, spirited Penelope just doesn’t suit his plans for a model marriage—until a good deed goes awry, and scandalous rumors link his name to Penelope’s. She might not be the quiet, sensible wife he thought he wanted, but she is beautiful . . . beguiling . . . and far more passionate than he ever imagined. Can a marriage begun in scandal become a love match, too? (Goodreads)
My rating: 2/5.
Ugh. So this wasn’t my favourite historical romance… I haven’t read the first two parts of the series but that’s not a problem (it usually isn’t with historicals, but I thought I’d mention it all the same).
Anyway, here we have Penelope, who’s a non-noble heiress during her third or fourth season, and she’s actually a very sensible, likeable heroine – and the only reason this book didn’t get a 1/5 rating from me. Her young friend, currently courted by Benedict, asks her for advice on her match with the guy and as a result, she rejects his marriage proposal quite dramatically.
At the same ball, Penelope follows another friend, saves her from a difficult situation, nearly gets raped, and is saved by Benedict (whom she dislikes because he once courted her sister but she actually finds him really attractive). This situation gets difficult because rumours start about her being a promiscuous young lady, which is very untrue, but the society isn’t kind to women.
And here we come to the main problem of this story: Benedict chooses to do nothing at all to defend Penelope’s honor, but leaves her to confront the rumours on her own, until the situation becomes so difficult for her that she’s forced to marry him or leave society in shame. His reasoning is that they’re well suited, and he needs her dowry to free himself from the influence of his tyrannical, abusive, sadistic father.
In my eyes, this is an insufficient reason to enable slut-shaming (in a case, no less, where the woman is entirely innocent), especially since Benedict is a grown man and a child no longer and the only reason he needs her money is that it’s unseemly for a nobleman to earn money in any way but by inheriting it or something.
While their relationship grows and they eventually fall in love, I felt that the foundation of their marriage was false. I know that historical romances feature all manner of marriages where love grows in difficult circumstances, but here the heroine was in a bad situation partly because of the hero’s actions and he did nothing to help her, which is simply inexcusable in my opinion. What hero would do that?
Well, there’s a Grand Gesture he does towards the end that could perhaps save his honor, but I’m not a huge fan of those. For me, it’s the little things that count, and Benedict is, sadly, not my kind of guy.
Have you read Love in the Time of Scandal? What did you think?
Could you sympathise with a hero who didn’t defend the heroine?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! :)