Stephanie Laurens' "Scandal's Bride"

Scandal's Bride - Stephanie Laurens

This was an interesting read, but there are too many problems with it to give it a higher rating. The main problem is the characters: they just aren't human beings. The good guys (Catriona, all the Cynsters) are all flawless super-humans, the bad guys are all caricatures. For me, a romance just doesn't work unless the characters, including the secondary characters, but especially the main ones, are actual humans, with flaws, self-doubt, and are capable of making mistakes, even huge ones. The delight in a romance for me is seeing the characters work through their flaws and realize their errors, not perform super-human deeds, to finally get their romantic reward. Unless performing a super-human deed is something totally unexpected of them and the result of overcoming a flaw or weakness (e.g. the crippled Lord Carew winning the fight in Mary Balogh's "Lord Carew's Bride"). So - Stephanie Laurens' characters just don't cut it.

Other problems are the piling on of the melodrama (the fire, the poisoning) without a real resolution for any of them, Helena being a rip-off of Leonie's character in Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades and Devil's Cub, the complete mishmash of "Lady" worship or whatever it was supposed to be, the fact that Richard could show up in the Vale and instantly speak perfect Gaelic (because there is no way that the people of the Vale, with their way of life, would have used English or even Scots) and on and on.