There were many things to like about this book, including the suffragette heroine who wants to be a lawyer and the interesting subplot involving the legal system circa 1874. Unfortunately, seriously unrealistic behavior between the main characters overshadowed the better aspects of the book, rendering it a so-so read in the end.
Winifred Appleton has had her hopes of entering law school dashed to pieces. No law school will accept a woman. She is determined to practice law to help better the rights of women in the legal system – in any way possible. She reluctantly accepts a position with eligible bachelor, Charles Howe. Winnie has known Charles for a few months, and felt the sparks fly between them. However, Winnie does not want anything to stand in her way, including a relationship, or worse, marriage.
Charles is prosecuting attorney who has been fascinated with Winnie. He believes that by allowing Winnie to work for him he can accomplish two things: first, to have her give up her ridiculous idea of becoming a lawyer, and second, develop a relationship with her.
Winnie is very capable in her legal duties, and when a case involving a woman accused of poisoning her husband comes to light, Winnie knows she must be involved. Charles takes the prosecuting position and is only interested in bringing Mrs. Black to justice. This sets up an opposition between them regarding the case, and more importantly, their ideals. Winnie will do whatever she has to in assisting the defense, even using the press. Charles despises her tactics, but cannot keep away from her.
Here is where the problem lies. Winnie and Charles cross paths often, in his office when she works there, and then during the court battle. Every time they come in contact with each other, they are involved in some kind of passionate embrace. Every discussion they have involves heated kisses or more. Amazingly, no one catches on to all the locked door conversations. I found this extremely unrealistic, since this story is set in 1874. Certainly someone in Charles’ office would comment on what they were doing in there for such a long period of time. After reading a book on reproduction, Winnie also tells Charles that she wants to be his mistress to get the mating instinct out of their systems.
The readers also enter the relationship between Charles and Winnie after it has already developed somewhat. They have known each other for a number of months, and I was disappointed not to be present at their first meeting.
Katie Rose is no Garson Kanin, however, and Courting Trouble is no Adam’s Rib. My verdict on Winnie and Charles? I find them guilty of severely unrealistic behavior.