25 November, 2011

Review: A Lady's Lesson In Scandal by Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran is an interesting writer. She strikes me as a cross between Judith Ivory and Mary Balogh. Like Balogh, her books are often character studies where little happens externally. Like Ivory, her characters are quite realistic. In A Lady's Lesson In Scandal a lost child is recovered and given the Pygmalion treatment. But her childhood in poverty has made her stronger than the hero, not weaker. Simon has been raised in financial comfort but emotional poverty. As a result, he has found himself with few survival skills outside of his charm. A classic example of meeting the very low bar set for him, Simon keeps his depth hidden. Nell's hard earned need to read people before they strike out allows her to see there is something beneath his surface charm.

I'm surprised to find I have very little to say about Nell and Simon. I very much enjoyed their story. It's definitely on my short list for best books I read this year. (Maybe it's the broken ankle?) The issue of class was executed very well, as Simon's revulsion gives way to a realization of his own petty biases. Nell's anger at her change in circumstance, her refusal to relax her guard and her inability to refute her origins all ring true as well. A Lady's Lesson In Scandal is filled with the sort of small moments that make a character more than a momentary diversion. Nell absolutely found her way into my heart and if she wants Simon, she should have him. I hope there is a sequel in the works. At the book's close we are left with more questions than answers about Nell's separation from her family. It reads like a complete story, but one that leaves the reader wishing it had a few more chapters. If you missed this when it came out, hunt it down. It was absolutely worth the time.

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