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  5. The Scandalous Series | Caroline Linden

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It was always pretty clear that his father was believably, actively evil in the sense of viewing others as things for his own manipulation, including the routine application of pain to cower and bully his family so I had much more sympathy for him than Penelope could manage.

What surprised me is how much I ended up liking her and how much I enjoyed her striving to understand something she was fundamentally ill-equipped to comprehend. She just has no experience with the kind of man Ben's father is and thus has no way to gauge the effect that has had on Ben.


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So I deeply enjoyed their exchanges, even as some of the events would worry me. Knowing how flawed Ben was and how important Pen is to his oh, man, I just now realized that they're Pen and Ben eventually overcoming the trauma of his childhood was deeply satisfying, even during relapses and misunderstandings.

Linden had me absolutely convinced that each had their hearts in the right place and were striving to understand one another, even as they struggled to build a framework of communication. All of which is to say that they didn't so much fight as they engaged in spirited discussion that produced fruitful reconciliations. It was very well-done. All of that said, the plot developments with Lord Clary were so very bad that they almost dragged this down a full star on their own. I kept expecting him to sprout a Snidely Whiplash moustache just so he could twirl it.

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I've never much warmed to Olivia Townsend, either, so I resented her catapulting Clary into Pen's orbit. I liked how their friendship modeled Pen's loyalty and devotion to friends and opened dialogue with Ben, but that doesn't mean I was thrilled with the trainwreck of the plot. I just knew that was going to come back and bite them and, sadly, wasn't disappointed. Add Ben's dad showing up and stirring trouble and you have a lot more melodrama than I appreciate.

It Takes a Scandal

I almost imagined myself at the Desert Star Playhouse a local theater that encourages audience participation and often has plots with actual Snidely Whiplashes , yelling view spoiler ["No! Don't get on the boat! There's no way that's a good idea! Papa Scowls-a-lot is eeeeeviiiiil! And daaaaaangeeer" hide spoiler ]! So yeah, elements of the plot were comically melodramatic. Fortunately, Linden didn't use these as instances of Pen taking foolish risks or Ben not believing her.

Indeed, Linden turned them to good use in the end and in important, relationship-building ways. And I do have to concede that the best way for Pen to understand the depth of Ben's trauma at his father's hands is to witness it first-hand. The resulting understanding and introspection made it worth recovering the rating, at least on a rounding-up basis.


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  • I actually really appreciated how Linden used them as milestones in their relationship dynamic—mostly in the sense of sharing intimacy and fantasy and being appreciated for doing so. This was very well done and I really liked how it both built and illustrated the growth in their relationship. Nov 10, Becca rated it it was amazing Shelves: on-my-shelf , favorites.

    Caroline Linden just keeps getting better and better. I'm just waiting for the day when other romance readers finally see what I do.

    I've enjoyed this Scandals series which I'm sure you can guess, centers around an erotic book and any number of society scandals. I highly recommend that you read these books in order since there is a lot of overlap and you will enjoy it more if you know the backstory. It is not an easy Caroline Linden just keeps getting better and better.

    It is not an easy journey. Penelope is the younger sister of Abigail. Unlike her sister, Penelope is outspoken, opinionated, vivacious, and adventurous, while Abigail is quieter, more thoughtful, and more sedate. In the previous book in this series, which is Abigail and Sebastian Vane's story my least favorite of the series , we find out that Benedict, an Earl's son, was childhood friends with Sebastian, but did not defend him when ugly rumors surface.

    Penelope, being a very loyal person, cannot forgive Benedict for his seemingly callous behavior toward his friend and grows to dislike him. This is where the story opens. When I read the previous books in this series, I knew there was more to Benedict than met the eye. I couldn't wait for his story. Benedict's father, the earl, abused Benedict and his family which had driven much of his behavior.

    Some readers thought Benedict was weak, but knowing the time period and reading about how he charted his own course to gain freedom from his father's tyranny and even trying to reconcile for the sake of his wife, made me adore him. Despite Benedict's charm, good looks, and wealth, he did not have it easy. And despite his father, Benedict was of an easy temper, optimistic about his future, protective of his mother and sisters, and patient with a sometimes mulish Penelope.

    He was also very, very sexy. There were more sex scenes in this book than some of the others, but it fit well with the development of Penelope and Benedict's relationship, which started off as a serious attraction to each other despite their arguments. And I could definitely understand Penelope's attraction to Benedict. His appeal leapt of the pages and like Penelope, I couldn't get enough of him! Now, this story has a "forced marriage" storyline where Benedict and Penelope are brought together due to misunderstandings and an ugly rumor.

    I thought there were alternatives, but this was definitely the course of action that had the highest likelihood of happiness. To be honest, with how Penelope had treated him, I was surprised Benedict took a chance on her! But I'm glad he did and most of the book gives you a view of how distrust melts to friendship and then fires up to love.

    It was fun to see them explore each other. Now, Penelope was a little difficult to like. It took quite a lot of drama for her to finally understand what Benedict had tried to explain about his father. However, I have to give it to her, when she finally does see how wrong she was, she has no problem admitting it and that is where she redeemed herself.

    Her fire and lack of fear are what attracted Benedict to her,but it also is what got her in trouble. As this is a romance novel, it all works out though : Caroline Linden is an author who often surprises me. This book did not play out how I expected at all. At first I was disappointed. There is no big show down between the earl and Penelope. There is no dramatic physical altercation between the earl and Benedict. But now that I've read it, I believe that Linden did it right.

    It was true to the time period and true to how I think things would really go down instead of how I wish they would. Now, there is one event that makes this ending seem too easy, but nevertheless, I'm still glad it happened because now everyone can breathe quite a bit easier. I'm now looking forward to the final book in this series, which I have a strong feeling will center around Penelope's friend Olivia Townsend and Penelope's brother James Weston.

    Recent Posts

    The plot thread with these characters in this book was left wide open and I think the next book will have a lot of drama, intrigue, and healing. I can't wait! Jul 15, Ally rated it it was amazing. Loved it. Best in the series thus far.

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    May 21, Rose Blue rated it really liked it. Penelope Weston has definite opinions about marriage, most importantly that it should include love and passion, and never be a matter of convenience. When a friend confesses that Benedict Lennox is courting her, Pen urges her to be sure that her potential husband feels a genuine regard for her.

    When they first met, Pen was quite taken with him, and they got along very well. Then Ben decided to court P Penelope Weston has definite opinions about marriage, most importantly that it should include love and passion, and never be a matter of convenience.

    The Scandalous Series | Caroline Linden

    As a child, Ben suffered countless beatings, food deprivation, and other punishments. He also took the blame for many things not his fault to protect his mother and sisters. Now as an adult, Ben no longer has to take the beatings, but his father still plays cruel games to control him. Ben will be wealthy when his father dies, but until then, he is helpless. So, he decides to marry. An heiress will allow him to live independently of his father, and never have to see him. Ben only chose to court her sister Abigail instead because she was a much gentler, amiable lady, and Ben thought she fit his dream of a peaceful life.

    While Pen is fiery and passionate, she is still a great heiress, and can give Ben his freedom from his father. So they are married. Pen has been a devoted reader of the scandalous series, 50 Ways to Sin, and she is eager to learn about physical pleasure.