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.

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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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  1. Brie

    Great review, Natalie! I had a similar experience with the book. I, too, wanted to love it, because although I couldn’t finish the first two books, I adored TCC, so I was hoping this would be another winner.

    My main issue was that the book was too obvious in its message. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great message, but it had the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I got the impression that the characters and their story were secondary and mere vessels for what Milan wanted to convey, so I didn’t connect with them. And I disagree with you about the hero; I saw him as a tortured good guy who had convinced himself that he wasn’t good. He’s a very common type of Romance hero, so I kept rolling my eyes at his angst.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the final novella, because I’ve always thought that Ms. Milan’s novellas are much better than her full-length titles.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @Brie: I really did like that Edward had to do some Actually Really Awful Shit to survive–as opposed to some Kinda Sorta Grey-ish Maybe Awful Shit. Also, keep in mind that I utterly adore Dain and his mommy issues (Lord of Scoundrels), so I’m primed to love the Bad Boy Who Isn’t trope. 😉

  2. --E

    “Edward had to do some Actually Really Awful Shit to survive–as opposed to some Kinda Sorta Grey-ish Maybe Awful Shit”


    See, this is why reviews are good for a book if they have some depth, not just “rah rah” or “boo.” (Though of course this line was in a comment, not the review. Um, never mind.)


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