The Suffragette Scandal
by Courtney Milan
Book 4 (final) of Brothers Sinister
An idealistic suffragette...
Miss Frederica "Free" Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women's rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope... but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.
...a jaded scoundrel...
Edward Clark's aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger. When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help. So what if he has to lie to her? She's only a pawn to use in his revenge.
...and a scandal seven years in the making.
But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward. By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it's too late. The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past... and once the woman he loves realizes how much he's lied to her, he'll lose her forever.
"Look at the tasks you listed, the ones you think are impossible. You want men to give women the right to vote. You want men to think of women as equals, rather than as lesser animals who go around spewing illogic between our menstrual cycles."
He still wasn't saying anything.
"All your tasks are about men," she told him. "And if you haven't noticed, this is a newspaper for women."
Do you know that giddy feeling you get when you realize you've found yet another gem in your reading life? Another set of characters so lovely that you can't seem to stop following their plight? And you bemoan the ending of the book because you wish there were so much more?
When The Suffragette Scandal's ending came around, I kept hoping there would be a few more pages left. And then when the epilogue finished... well, it suddenly struck me that the entire series was now at it's end. Sure, there's one more novella that I have yet to finish, but if history is any indication, the novellas in this series aren't exactly as squee-worthy as the main novels have been.
Meanwhile, I'm suffering a bout of 'Book Hangover' as well as a case of, "I don't know which book I liked more: One or Four." Because as much as I squee-ed about the first book, and as much as I loved our main male character from The Duchess War, I maybe love Free and The Suffragette Scandal even more. Except that this last book in the four-book series does one better and gives us another dose of the humble and wonderful Duke of Clermont near the end, and I recall all the reasons I loved him so much from the first book.
So, despite this being a completely moot point, I don't know which book I love more, and I don't know which character I love more, and I don't know which couple I love more.
Free and Edward were stupendous together! I loved all their witty banter... though I DO have to admit that a lot of it was Free's round-about logic, her blunt personality, and her heck-care attitude. This is a woman who truly doesn't care what people think of her, and even dares the world to challenge her beliefs and her life's work. She doesn't bat an eye at any type of impropriety and even walks into it all head on.
"You should read more of my newspaper. I published an excellent essay by Josephine Butler on this very subject. Men use sexuality as a tool to shut up women. We are not allowed to speak on matters that touch on sexual intercourse--even if they concern our own bodies and our own freedom--for fear of being labeled indelicate. Any time a man wishes to scare a women into submission, he need only add the question of sexual attraction, leaving the virtuous woman with no choice but to blush and fall silent. You should know, Mr. Clark, that I don't intend to fall silent. I have already been labeled indelicate; there is nothing you can add to that chorus."
His mouth had dropped open on sexuality; it opened wider on intercourse, and wider still on attraction.
I can't really express how much I loved Free and her care-free spirit since the first time she was introduced in the second book of this series. The Suffragette Scandal pretty much cemented my love for her. It also helps that she has a distinctly endearing personality that comes off both cutesy and snarky at the same time. This ongoing "punctuation" joke has been delightful, and made me smile a lot:
"Suffragette," she said, "is pronounced with an exclamation point at the end. Like this: 'Huzzah! Suffragettes!'"
"I don't pronounce anything with exclamation points."
"No? Then there's no time like the present to start. Repeat after me: 'Let's hear three cheers for the women's vote!'"
"Cheering is entirely beyond my capabilities."
"Oh, too bad." Her tone was sympathetic, but her eyes were mocking. "I see now. You're a womanthrope."
"No. I am a realist. Likely you've never met my sort before."
"Oh, I'm sure I have." She rolled her eyes. "I've heard everything. Let me see. You believe that women will vote for the handsomest candidate without using their faculties of reason. Is that the size of your realism?"
He met her accusing gaze with an annoyed look of his own. "Do I look like a fool? I don't see any reason for women not to vote; you're no stupider, on average, than the typical man. If there were any fairness in the world, suffragettes would succeed in all their political aims. But the world is not fair. You're going to spend your entire life fighting for gains that will be lost in political bickering ten years after they've been achieved. That's why I won't spare you three cheers. They'll serve no purpose but to waste my breath."
"Good heavens. You're right. I haven't met anyone like you."
And then she smiled at him. "Well, Monsieur le Realist. Call on me if you ever find yourself in need of an exclamation point. I have an entire box of them."
"That's ridiculous!" Mr. Clark growled. "You're extremely reasonable."
"Mr. Clark, did you just use an exclamation point? I could have sworn I heard one."
He didn't even blink. "Of course not," he scoffed. "I borrowed one of yours. It's allowed, when I'm talking of you."
"I heard it most distinctly," he told her. "You might have said 'It's you,' but there was a distinct exclamation mark at the end. In fact, I think there were two."
"Oh, dear," Free looked down, fluttering her eyelashes demurely. "Is my punctuation showing once more?"
And now I'm just filling the space with quotes and passages I've been highlighting throughout the book...
So here's another one I liked:
"I'm tired," Free told her brother. "Thank you for everything. I'd never have been able to rid myself of Delacy without you." She leaned up and kissed his cheek. "You're my favorite brother."
"I'm your only brother," he said in dark amusement.
"You see?" Free spread her arms. "I can't count on any of the others to even exist when I need them."
But there was just so much fun, humorous, witty quips and exchanges. Even some one-liners that made me laugh out loud! And then, in the middle of it all, a lot of thoughtful insight that really DID make it so easy to love this book, and Free, and even Edward (for all his flaws). The rest of the characters might have been a tad boring (except for Robert, never Robert!), or frustrating, but following Free and Edward through their conflicts and their love story really just made every other quibble and disagreement I found dim out into insignificance.
In a word, I just loved this book. Free is wonderful! And she and Edward are so amazing fun together, even if they didn't really have super great romantic chemistry.
Oh the FEELS!
And then there's this little gem:
May 28, 1877
As I don't believe in sending letters filled with treacle-like sentiment, I feel as if I should... send you a puppy or something.
Alas. I don't know if puppies keep when sent through the mails--and I doubt they'd pass through customs these days.
It's too bad you aren't a pirate, as you'd once planned. That would make puppy delivery far more efficient. I'd bring up my own ship next to you and send you an entire broadside of puppies. You'd be buried in very small dogs. You'd be far too busy with puppy care to worry about anything else. This is now sounding more and more invasive, and less and less cheering--and nonetheless I have yet to meet anyone who was not delighted by a wriggling mass of puppies. If I ever did meet such a person, he would deserve misery.
Do not doubt the power of the puppy-cannon.
P.S. If there is no puppy attached to this message, it is because it was confiscated at customs. Bah. Customs is terrible.
In spite of the fact that I had no idea what Edward was babbling on about, and how so out of character his entire letter seemed... well... PUPPY-CANNON. =D
Overall, I'm really going to miss this series and the characters. That Book Hangover is probably going to be here to stay for some time...
Free Friday Read #1
Page Count = 322
Cash Award = $6.00
Updated Bank Balance = $85.00