Combine Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels with Jane Austen, add a touch of Dickens and a modern sex scene, then you’ll have the flavor of Nicky Penttila’s Note of Scandal. The notes and scandals are far from predictable, and the writing’s smooth and intelligent. Well-researched historical details add depth to plot and character, from the technology of the printing press to financial constraints on rich and poor, the poverty of returning soldiers and the ethically strained laws of politics in the aftermath of Waterloo. Martin Purdy struggles to recover from his physical and mental wounds, while Olivia Delancey schemes to please everyone, especially Martin and his fiancee, accidentally plotting her own downfall. If only Olivia had someone besides her music to love, but now even her promised betrothal’s falling through. The men of this world respect women only as marriage fodder, and Olivia has no respect at all for their preconceptions.
My favorite scene is of newspaperman Will sketching the action in an age without photographers. Tourists stare at history in the making, and newspapers either report or devise the news. Meanwhile a pleasing marching tune keeps the story moving swiftly along. Olivia and Will have all the expected misunderstandings and more. And Olivia herself has to learn to recognize true friendship and become her own ally before story’s end. Note of Scandal is an enjoyable romantic novel with that extra bit of historical backstory that brings an era as well as its people to life--a quick fun read.
Disclosure: I received an ecopy during the author’s blog tour with a request for my honest review.