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Book Title: Une femme à tout prix|
The author of the book: Caroline Linden
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 31.10 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.2
Edition: J'ai Lu
Date of issue: September 2nd 2015
ISBN 13: 9782290101308
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Please visit the review page at Romantic Historical Reviews for a chance to win a journal to keep track of all your own scandals, plus print copies of the first two books in Caroline Linden’s Scandalous series.
This is the third full-length title in Caroline Linden's excellent Scandalous series, featuring secondary characters from the earlier books, but it works quite well as a standalone read.
Although Penelope Weston is an heiress with an immense dowry, she remains unwed after several seasons mixing with the ton. For one thing, she is not an aristocrat but simply the daughter of a successful attorney who made a fortune in the coal business. For another thing, she is far too spirited and outspoken to appeal to those young gentlemen who are looking for sweet, biddable wives. And now, Penelope is feeling rather lonely. Her best friend has married a rakish viscount (Love and Other Scandals), and her dear sister Abigail has recently wed Sebastian Vane, the Weston's neighbor in Richmond (It Takes a Scandal).
A sweet, biddable wife with a fortune is exactly what Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton, heir to the Earl of Stratford, is looking for. To that end, he courted Abigail (in the previous book) but lost her to his childhood best friend, Sebastian. It never occurred to him to court Penelope, as she was not at all the kind of lady he sought. Benedict is desperate for a wealthy wife, however, in order to escape from under the financial control of his abusive, sadistic father. Penelope took Benedict in dislike, convinced that he never loved her sister. Moreover, Penelope thought that Benedict was cruel to Sebastian and responsible, along with the earl, for Sebastian's loss of his property and for being accused of thievery.
Benedict is now courting Penelope's shy young friend, Frances Lockwood. When Frances asks Penelope whether she should accept the expected offer from Benedict, Penelope tells her to follow her own heart, with the result that Frances rejects Benedict. He is certain that Penelope had something to do with Miss Lockwood's sudden, bold demand to know whether he loved her and wanted to kiss her.
At a rout one evening, Penelope goes to the aid of her childhood friend, Olivia Townsend, a widow who earns her living as a lady's companion. Somehow, she has fallen under the power of the obnoxious Lord Clary, and Penelope finds him attacking Olivia as she begs him to stop. When Olivia flees the room, Clary turns his wrath on Penelope, but she has been trained by her brother in the ways to stop a man dead in his tracks with her knee between his thighs
Fortunately for Penelope, Benedict walks in and fights off the irate Clary. Despite their enmity, Benedict is nothing but kind and solicitous toward Penelope, examining her injured foot and helping restore her dress and hair to rights. As luck would have it, though, Frances Lockwood and her mother find the couple in this suggestive situation, and Mrs. Lockwood angrily accuses Penelope of merely pretending to be Frances's friend and scheming to get Benedict for herself.
Penelope is prepared to endure the gossip if Mrs. Lockwood spreads her story, but what develops is a vile, ugly rumor that Penelope is a loose woman who has consorted with many men. Benedict realizes that Lord Clary is getting his revenge, but the only way he can see to protect Penelope is to marry her, a prospect that Benedict is surprised to find somewhat appealing. Seeing no other choice, Penelope reluctantly agrees. Like Benedict, there is something appealing about this marriage idea.
It's great fun watching Benedict and Penelope figure out how they're going to go about building a marriage. One thing helps: they have sizzling chemistry between the sheets, something that rather surprises them both. Ms. Linden has written great banter between them, and even their arguments have a certain charm. The story is long on talk and short on action during the first half, but this is not a criticism. It was fascinating to "listen” to them get to know each other, and Ms. Linden has a real talent for writing engaging, believable dialogue.
The drama comes later in the book – from Benedict's horrible father, who makes it clear that he does not approve of their marriage. Benedict is finally free of the old man, however, and little by little he reveals the misery of his early years to Penelope, whose close, loving family stands in blunt contrast. Indeed, it's fairly difficult to figure out how Benedict became such a charming, honorable man, given his father's cruelty. I have to say that the earl is slightly over the top; the lengths he is willing to go are horrifying, and thus the book became a bit too melodramatic for me toward the end.
There is also a mystery involving Penelope's friend Olivia Townsend, who apparently is being blackmailed by the evil Lord Clary. This plot line is left unresolved a the end of the book, so I'm assuming that another volume in the series is planned. If so, I'll definitely be reading it.
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Read information about the authorCaroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a degree in mathematics from Harvard University and worked as a programmer in the financial services industry before realizing writing fiction is much more exciting than writing code. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Readers' Choice Award, the JNRW Golden Leaf, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA's RITA Award, and have been translated into seventeen languages around the world. She lives in New England.
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