*Someone at Pocket really likes the Angelina Jolie look.
I started this review and then I totally forgot what the book was about. True story.
Duran is not getting enough credit for working outside the Regency period. Sure, Victorian England is the new Regency, but still. She's also diversifying her heroines, replacing the typical virginal heiress with a borderline alcoholic. Our meet cute here finds the heroine passed out drunk in the street and our hero winding his way home from another hard day at the office. Call it the party girl meets the medic. There was something Courtney Milan in the set up, but aspects of the story I expected to find more fully developed slipped away into a conventional resolution.
Liza is down a lover, down a fortune and racing the clock to find herself a new man. With a strong sense of responsibility to her dependents, Liza is the standard Regency hero in a skirt. She's sewn her oats and she's ready to re-don the ball and chain. Duran flirts with the way Liza numbs herself through drink yet she never fully commits to the concept. Liza drinks enough to wake up in strange shrubbery unattended. It's a bit unexpected to find she actually can stop whenever she wants. Happiness easily sobers her up. Overall she's a refreshing change from an uncomplicated heroine but her sadness seemed more assumed than truly heart-wrenching.
Michael has family problems. He's been care-taking his mentally unbalanced brother since the death of said brother's wife and he just can't take it anymore. His brother is destroying himself with grief and suspicion. Here, too, Duran pulls the punch. While the Duke gets a few wonderful lines about the completeness of his power, his resolution makes almost no sense. Liza has the key to breaking through his madness and she comes by it accidentally. She uses that key to blackmail him in a last minute plot twist that doesn't bear deep thought. It works because the story needs it to work and a veil is drawn over any issues. The relationship between Michael and his brother was fairly strong until the easy resolution. The Duke's decline was too total, his radical demands of Michael too intense for the resolution to satisfy. Michael himself becomes an afterthought for me. While he has a number of interesting qualities I wasn't compelled by him.
Overall That Scandalous Summer was a decent but to required read. I enjoyed it as quickly as I forgot it. With a few changes Duran would've had something epic here. I hope next time she dips into mental illness she commits more fully. For me the Duke's cure was akin to Balogh's Silent Melody and equally unsatisfying.