I have had the pleasure of reading Ms Kullman’s previous novels, so it was with quite some anticipation I settled myself in a chair to read her latest novel. Ms Kullman writes intelligent regency romance—the plot devices are realistic and grounded in the historical realities of the time, with little tendency to overly dramatic gestures. To do this, the author must not only know their period inside out—I am no expert in the 19th century, but I would say that judging by how effortlessly Ms Kullman transports me back in time she most definitely is—but must also be capable of breathing life into their characters. This Ms Kullman does with aplomb.
Rosa Fancourt is a well-born lady who, through a sequence of misfortunes, has found herself obliged to make her living as a governess. When the story opens, she has been with the Loring family for years and is clearly very fond of her young charge, Chloe. But Chloe is growing up and Rosa has to face the rather unpalatable reality that it is time to move on, start all over in a new household. However, things are about to become substantially more complicated for Rosa, and suddenly her main concern is not having to adapt herself to life in a new household but rather if any new household will even consider taking her in.
Fortunately, Rosa has a champion of sorts in Chloe’s older half-brother, Sir Julian Loring. Unfortunately, there are skeletons in Ms Fancourt’s past—well, that of her family, at least—and then, of course, there’s the deliciously nasty Mrs Overton, who has her eye firmly set on the handsome and rich Sir Julian.
Other than the growing attraction between Rosa and Julian, Ms Kullman’s novel also offers an insight into the constricted role of the 19th century woman and her dependency on her male betters. This is a society where a husband had total control over his wife, where even a whisper of immoral behaviour can ruin whatever hopes a young woman might have had. It is a society where the women pay the price—always, held to far higher standards of behaviour than their male counterparts.
A Suggestion of Scandal is a most enjoyable read. Other than two sympathetic and well-developed main characters, it offers a peep-hole into the world of the early 1800s, complete with an engaging story which had me quite unable to put the book down. Not because it had me chewing my nails to the quick, but because it immerses me in the whispers of the past while making me genuinely care for Rosa and her Julian.
Well done, Ms Kullman—again!
© Anna Belfrage
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