July 31, 2014
"Pain is a black ink. Enough of it and you can blot out a man's soul." The Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan
All I can say is wow. Courtney Milan has presented us with a wonderful book in the form of The Suffragette Scandal and this one is the last full-length story in her Brother Sinister series. For those of you who think the last book in a series usually gets short thrift, think again. The Suffragette Scandal is a fully-developed, wonderful love story filled with some really dynamic prose. I loved this story and I am overwhelmed with the way Ms. Milan writes about women/men/people who have dreams. Those wishful thinkers out there who oftentimes want the impossible, but in her books the impossible becomes achievable; she makes them come true. A lot of the time it seems as if she's writing about a parallel universe where our dreams do come true. I digress.
The Suffragette Scandal is a compelling story about Frederica Marshall, aka Free, our really strong heroine. When I use the word 'strong' to describe Free, I have to say that it doesn't come anywhere close to actually depicting her. Free is the publisher of a newspaper for women, about women, and written by women (except for one man). She believes in equal rights for women, starting with voting rights. She is not afraid of a fight and she does go into places that a lot of women wouldn't even venture. She puts her life in danger, however, she is not a TSTL heroine. She is a true heroine and not just an in-search-of-a-hero heroine.
Then we have our hero, Edward Clark, aka Edward Delacey. What a fascinating character. He's everything a hero isn't - he lies, he blackmails, he's a master forger, and he's got tons of secrets. I also thought he had the bigger part in this story, but that didn't take away from Free because a lot of what he was doing revolved around her. His back story is outrageously poignant; it's really a miracle he turned out as well as he did. It also gives an excellent reason for his feelings of "I'm not worthy," which may have gone on for just a little too long for my taste.
Together Edward and Free make for a complicated couple, and it was a joy to read this book when they were together struggling with and against each other. In the end, there is the feeling that like all real marriages, this one is going to be a work in progress and a partnership between two people who love each other.
I admire Ms. Milan and realized with this book more than any other she's written that she likes to challenge people. She touches on subjects that not everyone may be comfortable with in their romance novels. I'm not overly fond of reading a romance novel with a hidden agenda or where an author is promoting his or her point of view, and I found myself marveling part way through this book that a very strong point of view was being expressed, but I didn't mind. Maybe that's because I agreed with it, or maybe Ms. Milan's skills are so good she has taken historical romance to another level.
The Suffragette Scandal didn't disappoint and is a fitting companion the rest of the novels in the Brother Sinister series. This story is filled with some wonderful prose and a magnificent couple, especially Edward, who is one of the best heroes I've read in a long time.
Time/Place: 1877 England