Christina Dodd and indeed many of her contemporaries delight in bringing us female characters who show strength and independence in the mans world that was the Regency era. But here that truly is the best thing about the very enjoyable story that is 'That Scandalous Evening'. Jane Higgenbothem was completely ruined 11 years prior to the opening of the book, when as a result of a nude sculpture she made of the man she worshiped as a god (Jane's words, not mine) and her following behaviour resulted in public scandal, Jane fled the fashionable ton. He sister died shortly after, and Jane has spent the intervening years sketching, painting, bringing up her niece, and spending a miserable time as unpaid housekeeper to her penny pinching brother in law. With the exception of the joy of spending time with her niece, she has generally lived in a state of near poverty and dependence on an unwilling relative. Now, however, it is time to launch Adorna in society, and her brother in law has told Jane that she will not be welcome in his house once Adorna is safely married. The object of her desire, Lord Blackburn, more than any embarrassment at the scandal per se, was scandalised instead by a singular inaccuracy of the statue, that made him a laughingstock. Now hardened and saddened by his experiences at war, he has returned to London a more weary, more mature individual. He meets up with Jane and is intrigued by her, but more than that recognises that the protection of the resurrection of their scandal may enable him the breathing room to scour the ton for a suspected traitor and spy. I knew I'd like the book, because Dodd wrote it and I've enjoyed every other that I read. That turned out to be the case of course, but I enjoyed it even more than I thought. Jane is such an intense person, who feels things so deeply, so passionate in her rages and hurts, so intense about her art (she has not sculpted since That Scandalous Evening. As soon as she does, she gets into trouble again). The call of the art of Europe is a genuinely strong one, and her love for Adorna, her beloved dead sisters child, is all that holds her to England. Even as she falls in love again with Blackburn, she is torn by her love for and joy in her art. We get inside Blackburn's head on occasion, which was necessary for me to like him (otherwise I'd have to wonder what Jane saw in him). Jane's view of him is remarkably perceptive, except of course that she has little idea of the depth and warmth of his feelings for her. It is delicious to become so involved in a character, and caught up in the emotional storm with them. I very much enjoyed this book for that reason, and recommend it to all readers of romance.
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