06 July 2015

All's Fair in Love and Scandal (Scandalous #2.5) by Caroline Linden

Summary from Goodreads:
Nothing wagered…

Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won…

Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

I wasn't sure if I wanted a Happily Ever After for Douglas Bennet. Yet. When he was introduced in Love and Other Scandals he seemed far from ready to settle down and more than a little disappointed to find his best friend Tristan, hero of Love and Other Scandals, in love and at the altar with Douglas's sister Joan.  But here we find Douglas, bored and swanning around a ballroom and ready to jump at a five pound wager to get the aloof, widowed Madeline Wilde to dance with him in the mid-series novella All's Fair in Love and Scandal.  Madeline, for her part, never dances and dismisses the attractive Douglas with barely a thought (so she thinks).  Poor, hurt fowl. Douglas who is then goaded by the loathsome Spence into helping him claim a bounty: deliver proof exposing the author of the naughty pamphlet series 50 Ways to Sin and claim two thousand pounds.  Douglas begins to woo Madeline with predictable results...in the direction of the altar.

Now, this is where I wish Linden had made this a full novel in the Scandalous series.  I feel like there's a lot of "insta-lust" in a very short amount of time without giving it time to turn into "insta-love" so I feel like I have to take her word that Douglas and Madeline are meant for each other.   There are a lot of sweet parts, and the wager-conflict introduced by Madeline is interesting, but it feels very compressed (this possibly may be due to my having read Love and Other Scandals after reading and reviewing Love in the Time of Scandal, Scandalous #3, and I really loved the plotting in that novel).  I would have loved to see Douglas and Madeline's relationship develop more slowly and perhaps see samples of Madeline's writing.  We didn't even get a snippet of 50 Ways to Sin in this installment, so we have to assume Douglas is reading one introduced in the previous two books.

Dear FTC: I received a digital advance copy of this novel from the publisher...but then I bought a copy as well.

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