It Started With a Scandal is an absolute delight from start to finish, and is definitely going on to my keeper shelf. The central characters are wonderfully characterised and perfect for each other, even though they come from very different spheres of life. Level-headed and determined, both have a strong sense of responsibility to others - Elise puts her son’s welfare above her own happiness, and Philippe is prepared to sacrifice his so that he can take care of those who depend upon him. Their loyalty and honour is balanced beautifully by their innate kindness and by the playful side of themselves they rarely allow others to see. They also have in common the fact that they are both adrift, neither of them quite fitting in with any particular echelon of society. Elise is well-born, but has had to take employment in order to support herself and her son, and Lavay feels out of place among his peers, people he comes to realise are as unbending now as they ever were. The romance is a delicious slow-burn, full of sexual tension and wonderfully witty banter which, I readily admit, is my drug of choice when it comes to romance reading. But the book is so more than that – even as Lavay and Elise trade quips, they are becoming attuned to each other so that they learn almost as much about each other from what they don’t say as what they do. Their conversations are as laced with poignancy as with wit, which is one of the things that elevates this story from being a mere “feelgood” romance with lots of great, sexually-charged banter to being something far deeper. One particular moment pin-pointed this for me – a conversation about home which shows the importance of such a thing to both characters. Eloise lost hers when her parents disowned her and Philippe lost his in a much more violent way, but eventually they both come to see that home really IS where the heart is. It Started With a Scandal is a beautifully written, character-driven romance, full of warmth, charm and depth – and I loved every minute of it.
Buy it at Amazon
Grade: A-Check Review