Title: In Search of Scandal
Author: Susanne Lord
Series: London Explorers #1
Genre: Victorian Romance
A DARING EXPLORER
All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.
IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART
Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?
Source: ARC from Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley
The romance in this book is tortured and tormented, which can sometimes be a very good thing. For me, though, I just kept wondering why these two people were doing such horrible things to each other, all in the name of love, and why no one was stopping them.
Charlotte is a dreamer and wildly imaginative. Despite being twenty-two, the moment she sets eyes on Will – actually, it’s the moment she hears his name – she decides she is wildly in love with him and he will be the man she will marry. Regardless of the fact that the man is doing everything he can to get away from her. That’s the problem with Charlotte, she is completely buoyant and unsquashable. She really does only see what she wants to see, while willing with all her might for what she wants to happen. She’s also surprisingly naive and unwordly for a woman with such a scandalous family and such rumoured intelligence.
I had a few problems with Charlotte’s love for Will, not least because she knows absolutely nothing about him except what she’s imagined when she falls for him. Everything that she admires about him, she wants to change. In her mind he’s an intrepid explorer, travelling the world and distant places because that’s what he loves and wants to do. Well, she loves him now so he has to stay home. She also wants to change the way he dresses, believes he needs a valet and even wants to change the way he does his hair!
She doesn’t love Will at all, she just wants to mould him into her preferred image while she uses his fame to help her notorious family. Not once in this whole book does she ever think about making Will happy – it’s all about how she loves him. She pushes and she picks and she makes him absolutely miserable. True, she also makes herself miserable in the process, but that was less of a consolation than I might have expected.
As for Will… the man is too messed up for a relationship. He knows that and he would have left well alone, except Charlotte keeps picking at him. He’s rude to her, he ignores her, he does everything to reject her, but she pays no attention. Until his protective instincts are roused and then he becomes just as bad as she is. Their relationship becomes based on mutual obsession that doesn’t have a lot to do with the other person – Charlotte’s is all to do with her image of Will, while Will wants to keep her safe, safe, safe – and to be honest the whole thing is completely unhealthy. Charlotte has a lot of trouble respecting Will’s physical boundaries, and then there’s one scene where Will comes close to crossing a major line. I didn’t find it romantic, I found the whole thing troubling.
Add in the prospective-fiancé peer who turns out to be a horrible person, Will’s quest to return to the scene of his nightmares, and a damned magic fix that really irritated me, and I guess I didn’t enjoy this as much as everyone else seems to. Which is a shame, because it is well written and potentially enjoyable, I just didn’t feel like these two people should be allowed near each other, let alone get married. And the ending was too neat and perfect for me, considering all that had gone before. There were times when I almost stopped reading because the urge to shout at Charlotte to leave the poor man alone were so strong. I stuck with it, though, and although it left me a bit perplexed, I’m intrigued enough to want to read the next one. I just hope those involved are a little less… extreme in their romantic intentions.
In Search of Scandal is Out Now.
Visit Susanne Lord for more details.