A Scandalous Situation, by Patricia Frances Rowell

>> Thursday, March 09, 2006

book coverI picked up A Scandalous Situation (excerpt), by Patricia Frances Rowell after seeing it mentioned in CindyS's blog. She listed it as one of her "great reads", and it sounded really good.

Browsing in Rowell's website, I see this one is part of a series, one in which each book is one of the four elements of nature. A Scandalous Situation is supposed to be Air, while A Perilous Attraction would be Fire. Then there's A Dangerous Seduction, which is Water, and finally, A Treacherous Proposition which is... Earth? Nope, Moonlight. Er... ok.

Her past was a dark country...

Iantha Kethley was a lady with a past--one not of her own making. Still, she found herself in a very difficult position. The English nobility would never forget what had happened to her, and marriageable gentlemen were not understanding at all of that sort of, uh... situation.

But that was neither here nor there. Iantha's ordeal had left her unable to bear being touched at all, let alone able to endure the intimacy of the marriage bed.

That is, it was neither here nor there until Robert Armstrong, Baron Duncan, plucked her out of the path of a snow slide and sheltered her in his home.

And asked her to marry him.

Recently returned from India, the widowed Rob found himself with an empty, aching heart, holding only grief for his lost wife and daughter. That is, until he rescued a wraith-like damsel in distress and fell under her spell.

And determined to make her whole, one touch, one kiss, one embrace at a time.
I really have to thank Cindy for this rec. This is an author I'd never even heard about, so if I hadn't seen Cindy's blog, I would have missed out on a very sweet, emotional story. A B.

Iantha Kethley endured a traumatic gang rape six years earlier, and this has left some understandably deep mental scars in her. She's uncomfortable being with people, especially men, and she pretty much can't stand to be touched, even by her loving parents and brothers and sisters, with whom she lives a very quiet life in the country. Her recovery isn't helped by the fact that all this time she's been receiving taunting letters, presumably from the rapists, who every clue seems to indicate are from the upper classes.

One day, as she's out painting in the snow, she's rescued from an avalanche by her new neighbour, Robert Armstrong. With a big storm approaching, there's no way she can get home, and Rob takes her to his. Iantha is obviously very scared, especially by the fact that since Rob has just arrived back home after many years in India, there's no female staff at his castle. However, Rob is kind and patient from the beginning, even if he doesn't understand why this lady is so cold and skittish, and his men are perfectly respectful, so Iantha is soon at ease and they establish somewhat of a rapport.

Once the storm is over, Rob returns Iantha to her house, and makes the obligatory offer of marriage, since she's spent a few days with him without a chaperone. Even though he's attracted to her, he's not completely sure he wants such a cool woman for a wife, but well, it can't be helped. But when Iantha's father feels honor-bound to reveal what happened to Iantha all those years ago, before he can accept Rob's proposal, Rob finally understands Iantha's behaviour. He's still not sure if he'll be able to build a real marriage with her, but he's determined to give it his best try and convince her that she doesn't have to spend the rest of her life hiding.

What I loved best about this book was how Rowell slowly builds a real relationship between Iantha and Rob. The process of Iantha completely trusting her husband and being completely comfortable with him (in bed and out) was a long, gradual, laborious one. I loved that while Rob was all that was kind and generous and patient, this didn't come effortlessly to him. It was difficult for him to control himself and he had quite a few doubts about whether he was ever going to succeed completely, and even, at some dark times, about whether all that very hard work was worth it. But he persevered, the adorable man!

I also liked how Rowell wrote Iantha. She's a truly strong heroine, not in a physical, outgoing way, but in the way she is so quietly determined to get over her fears and make a life with Rob. Even when the rapists step up their campaign to terrorize her and she starts having to face many of her fears head-on, she doesn't flag in her efforts and still tries to keep all this from taking over the life she's started to get back. I've read too many books in which being a survivor of rape is all there is to the heroine's personality, but this is not the case here. Iantha is a well-rounded character, and the effects the rape had on her are not all there is to her personality.

A long, careful process like the one Rob and Iantha embark on isn't as satisfying without some major emotional payoff, and A Scandalous Situation has that in spades. When Iantha finally shows she's comfortable even with a certain sexual position, when she finally lets go of her feelings and risks all those emotions she's had bottled up inside her for all those six years, Rowell makes these scenes so powerful and satisfying that I was really affected.

Something else I enjoyed was Rowell's writing, the way she created a very vivid atmosphere for her tale to take place in. The beginning, especially, was lovely, and the cover reflects this mood wonderfully. Oh, but speaking of the writing, I have a tiny nitpick: Rob "pulsed" every time they made love, which I found a bit distracting. Well, I did say it was a tiny nitpick, didn't I?

Where I had some bigger trouble with the book was with the villains' motivations. It just stretched my credibility that they would spend so much time and effort taunting Iantha and torturing her by sending her letters. I mean, they seem to have had other victims. Why not them? Or were they sending them all letters like that? And how much time were they spending on their correspondence, if that was so?

Compared to what worked here, though, that was not important, and the book was a success for me. I wonder how the other 3 in the series compare? I may have to seek them out!


Post a Comment

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP