Desert Isle Keeper
How to Start a Scandal
How to Start a Scandal is the second book in Madeline Martin’s The London School for Ladies series. I have not read the previous one, but I’ll definitely be checking it out after reading this one.
Seth Sinclair, Earl of Dalton, returns from war a broken man suffering from PTSD. He has recently inherited a title and reluctantly enters society. At the very first event he attends, he runs into his childhood friend and neighbor, Lady Violet Lavell. Together they learn How to Start a Scandal.
Violet has a few big secrets and they’re keeping her from even dreaming of marriage and children. One of these secrets is that she writes a gossip column entitled The Lady Observer about happenings in the ton. She hopes to use her earnings to support herself – until her father suddenly demands she marry. She can only imagine marrying one man, and that is, of course, Seth.
Seth, meanwhile, discovers that the family solicitor has stolen the jewelry that belongs to the earldom, and despite his mother’s protests, is attempting to track him down and have the items returned. He is also experiencing flashbacks from the war and, convinced his inability to overcome them makes him less of a man, he is reluctant to marry and force his wife to endure the embarrassment of having a husband who can’t go into society without panicking.
I absolutely loved this novel. It is so refreshing to read about a hero with problems that go beyond money issues and who isn’t outrageously sure of himself. Seth’s struggle with PTSD is very interesting; it makes him much more human and gives him a depth lacking in many romance heroes. He’s also such a sweet guy that it was impossible not to fall in love with him.
Violet is fabulous. Like Seth, she’s doing her best to come to terms with her past – in her case, a single youthful indiscretion she’s regretted ever since. She is also trying her best to make a living for herself so she can remain unmarried.
Seth’s attempts to find out who stole his family’s jewels and Violet’s secrets were enjoyable subplots. They didn’t overshadow the romance, but were still captivating enough that I found myself unable to stop reading.
The romance built slowly, but paid off in the end. Years before the story starts, Seth inadvertently destroys Violet’s self-confidence, and throughout the story, he helps build that confidence back up by showing her how beautiful he thinks she is. In turn, Violet helps Seth begin to overcome some of his PTSD episodes, and helps him realize they don’t define him.
How to Start a Scandal was a delight with a fascinating hero and heroine trying to make her own way. This one is going on my to read again list!