IT TAKES A SCANDAL Caroline Linden
Avon Historical
ISBN-13:  978-0-06-224490-1
May 2014
Historical Romance

Richmond-On-Thames, England 1822

It's 1816, and Sebastian Vane has just returned from the war with a shattered knee to find his father nearly mad after he started running through the town naked and accosting women.  One night sitting in his chair sleeping under the influence of laudanum, his former best friend Benedict Lennox wakes him up accusing him of hiding his thirteen year-old sister Samantha.  After looking everywhere, Benedict did not find his sister, but Sebastian found his father's bedroom empty; he was sure he locked him in before he went to sleep.  Despite looking, no sign of his father was ever found, and it was secretly thought that Sebastian murdered his father and hid the body.  Before Sebastian returned to England after being injured, his father sold part of the estate to Benedict's father for fifty pounds.  When Benedict's father refuses to give it back and instead offers to sell it to him for five thousand pounds, their friendship ends, and they haven't talked since.

Thomas Weston is so proud of buying a country estate for his wife and children, close enough to London but still in the country.  His daughter Abigail enjoys the country, but her sister Penelope is sure she will die of boredom so far from the excitement of London.  To further make his wife happy, Mr. Weston gives her a cute little puppy, Milo, who bolts for the outside whenever he gets a chance.  Of course, Penelope never volunteers to help, so when Milo makes his latest escape, Abigail is asked to return him, in her good clothes no less.  As he is about to head out into the brambles and mud, a man with a cane rescues Milo and returns him to her.  The man is dark and brooding, but something about him attracts her, and she asks him to call on her.

Over the following days Sebastian gets to know the sweet and exciting woman who has come into his life.  He shows her the grotto he and Benedict hunted for all through their childhood, and Sebastian found by accident one day.  Their stolen kisses and caresses convince Abigail that she loves Sebastian, but she knows her father won't be so easily persuaded.  Sebastian is broke, his estate had been sold off in parts by his mad father, and there is even an accusation that the night his father was lost Sebastian stole four thousand guineas from Lord Stratford, Benedict's father.  No father in his right mind would let a daughter with a forty thousand dollar dowry marry such a disreputable man.

Caroline Linden introduces us to Sebastian, a broken man in body and spirit.  Since the death of his father he has lived alone, accepting the censure from everyone in town who is sure he killed his father.  Abigail is a woman totally out of his grasp; her family is well-do-do, even though her father is in trade, and she is sweet and loving and brings light and life into his sad world.  Abigail is careful whom she pays attention to, and Sebastian has something deep inside him that calls to her.

Secondary characters are Penelope, Abigail's sister, and Benedict Lennox and his sister Samantha.  And Sebastian's father's ghost still lives with him, wondering where he went to that long ago night.

IT TAKES A SCANDAL has all the earmarks of a classic historical romance, a tortured hero, a sweet and loving heroine, and an old mystery.  Abigail and Sebastian will draw you into their story and capture you as you wonder how they will get their happily ever after.

Carolyn Crisher