The Flapper's Baby Scandal
Speakeasies, rouged knees and the Charleston are finally old enough to get their due as subjects for Harlequin Historicals, and The Flapper’s Baby Scandal sucks the reader back into the 1920s with a dramatic and fun tale about a G-man and the girl he loves.
Betty Dryer and her sisters are searching for freedom – from both a society and a movie studio-owning father who would prefer to repress them. While the Dryer girls seem to have everything, they’re as cloistered in their lives as Eugenides’ Lisbon sisters are. Betty is the one nursing a broken heart – the man she’d loved briefly has disappeared out of the blue, so she’s been partying her pain away at illegal speakeasies and dance clubs. At one such club, a dance contest pairs her with a man who’s competitive and dazzling. When they dance they’re magic – and when they kiss, doubly so. No wonder, because Betty knows this fella – he’s the guy who broke her heart with his sudden disappearance three years earlier.
Henry Randall – Betty’s dynamic dance partner – isn’t hanging around for the thrill of it. He’s a member of the Justice Department, and he’s trying to trace a murderer and robber to The Rooster Club, the girls’ favorite hangout. Adventure-seeking Betty – normally a strict adherent to the rules she and her sisters have crafted to keep their parents from finding out about their clandestine sojourns – decides to break them by helping Henry with his case. One thing soon leads to another, which leads to Betty turning up pregnant. But when Henry is mistakenly identified as a casualty in a raid, and believed dead, Betty’s father decides to arrange a marriage for her with a rich man to settle her down. Which life will Betty choose? And will Henry ever convince himself he’s worthy of love?
The Flapper’s Baby Scandal combines a good solid mystery and crime investigation with an incredibly tense tale about unplanned parenthood. Betty and Henry are easy to like and sympathize with, even though Henry is something of a typical ‘I-am-hero-I-must-suffer-for-my-anger-and-darkness’ lead. This can get a little tiresome, but Betty – her determination and strength and smarts – keeps the novel on the rails and prevents it from being a mess of self-recrimination.
Henry is likable, don’t worry – his adoration of Betty is adorable and his sense of right and justice admirable. And their romance – filled with bravery and chemistry – is gladdening. It’s lovely to visit with the rest of the Dryer sisters once again – middle sister Patsy and her new husband Lane heavily figure into this one, and we witness their wedding.
The setting and language are also accurate for the period, which is pretty impressively portrayed within the scheme of the story.
The Flapper’s Baby Scandal provides a sweet and yearning-filled romance and a lot of pulse-pounding action. In this day and age, who could ask for more?