Meh Suffragettes: Courtney Milan’s The Suffragette Scandal

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.
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August 13, 2014

The Suffragette Scandal, Courtney Milan

The Suffragette Scandal, Courtney Milan

Sigh. I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. But I didn’t.

Let’s back that up a bit. Of all the other books in Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, I’ve loved them all. The Countess Conspiracy made me ugly-cry. There aren’t many romances that do that to me.

So I’ve been chewing over exactly why I didn’t connect with The Suffragette Scandal in the same way I did with the others.  And after a few weeks of thought and a few conversations on Twitter, I think I’ve figured it out.

The stakes weren’t high enough. Which I know sounds really weird. But I never felt really engaged with Free and the bullshit she had to deal with.

Edward Clark is one of my favorite heroes–he’s not a nice man and I loved that about him. I didn’t like a decision he made at the end, although the narrative basically gave him no other choice.

Free–well, I liked her well enough. But I don’t know. I never felt like that if the villain (who I found to be almost cartoonish) succeeded that there would be major consequences for her.  I felt like, for the time period that the book was set in, she had too many powerful male relatives for that to work. Which, I know! I know! This is a book about a suffragette! But she does have all those enlightened male relatives backing her up and that detracted from the gravity of her situation. I do wonder if this book would have worked better for me if it were earlier in the sequence as opposed to the end.

I liked Free’s willingness to stand up and speak regardless of the cost to her. I liked that she employed women and her remembrances of her aunt Freddy were just lovely and poignant. But there was just something missing.

Meoskop at Love in the Margins liked the book a lot more than I did–and while I agree with all of her assessments of the individual pieces, they just didn’t coalesce into something that really worked for me.  I may revisit the book in a few months and see how I feel about it then.

In conclusion, instead of “Huzzah! Suffragettes!” this book was a solid “Meh. Suffragettes,” for me. Meh.

The final novella in this series, “Talk Sweetly to Me” will be out August 19. I will, of course, be buying it. I’m looking forward to it for a few reasons: the heroine is a black mathematician and I’m loving Milan’s genius promotional idea of actually having an Ask A Man column over on Tumblr. Folks, that’s how you do promo.

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