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Frances Hart spent her life as a devoted wife and mother. Now, newly widowed, she is determined to discover all Victorian London has to offer and to experience real passion for the first time. Acclaimed barrister James Whitcox knows no equal among his peers, but he also knows there's more to life than professional expertise and duty. He is determined to be equally versed i Frances Hart spent her life as a devoted wife and mother. Now, newly widowed, she is determined to discover all Victorian London has to offer and to experience real passion for the first time. Acclaimed barrister James Whitcox knows no equal among his peers, but he also knows there's more to life than professional expertise and duty. He is determined to be equally versed in the pleasures of the flesh. To that end, he joins the very secret Men and Women's Club, an exclusive society founded to examine and explore the many aspects of human sexuality. And when their paths cross, Frances's honesty and need inspire James to action: Together they will tutor each other in physical desire, in passion and in love.


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Frances Hart spent her life as a devoted wife and mother. Now, newly widowed, she is determined to discover all Victorian London has to offer and to experience real passion for the first time. Acclaimed barrister James Whitcox knows no equal among his peers, but he also knows there's more to life than professional expertise and duty. He is determined to be equally versed i Frances Hart spent her life as a devoted wife and mother. Now, newly widowed, she is determined to discover all Victorian London has to offer and to experience real passion for the first time. Acclaimed barrister James Whitcox knows no equal among his peers, but he also knows there's more to life than professional expertise and duty. He is determined to be equally versed in the pleasures of the flesh. To that end, he joins the very secret Men and Women's Club, an exclusive society founded to examine and explore the many aspects of human sexuality. And when their paths cross, Frances's honesty and need inspire James to action: Together they will tutor each other in physical desire, in passion and in love.

30 review for Scandalous Lovers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eastofoz

    What an arduous read this was :-/ More than once I just wanted to put it down and start something else. It’s very well-written and if you’re looking at that alone it’s a 5 star book, but it’s listed as an erotic romance and I didn’t feel much of the romance. The book reads more like historical fiction with erotic elements at times than romance. It focuses a lot on how women were basically treated like chattel in Victorian England –very scary and interesting but the romance part just fell flat. T What an arduous read this was :-/ More than once I just wanted to put it down and start something else. It’s very well-written and if you’re looking at that alone it’s a 5 star book, but it’s listed as an erotic romance and I didn’t feel much of the romance. The book reads more like historical fiction with erotic elements at times than romance. It focuses a lot on how women were basically treated like chattel in Victorian England –very scary and interesting but the romance part just fell flat. The feminist message of how far women have come since those days is throughout the book. The h/h barely had a normal conversation with each other. Lots of stilted dialogue and weird writing. You definitely get a feel for the surroundings and the parts in the courtroom were quite vivid without being boring but the relationship between James and Frances was stale and the sex was way too clinical and sometimes icky. There’s this recurrent scene with mussels that just made me keep going “ew ew ew” (!) They refer to having sex with each other as “going home” but it’s just "blech" the way it’s described at times, very "passionless" (the ring of her vagina was a home for them and it was supposed to represent a wedding band and how it binds two people) That “oh wow sigh sigh” was just not there. I didn't really care about the characters. The last page with the clincher ending was so rushed and just dumb. It's as if the author was allowed so many words and used them all up and you're stuck with this limp ending. They did love each other but the way they expressed it by talking and having sex was just “off”. At the beginning I thought the book was written in an austere, formal manner for a reason but the whole book is like that and that got tedious fast. What a disappointing read from an otherwise excellent author :(

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine Strowbridge

    Love, love love love!! I am in deep love with Robin Schone and her books. I can't stop reading them, and I have to have more when I'm done. James and Frances...beautiful. This is not your regular "gorgeous young woman falling in love with a dashing no good rake", oh, no, this was such a real story. Fourty-nine year old, mother of 5 and grandmother, Frances finding herself AND finding love with 47 year old James. It sucks when you can't find words to describe such an intense and deeply moving sto Love, love love love!! I am in deep love with Robin Schone and her books. I can't stop reading them, and I have to have more when I'm done. James and Frances...beautiful. This is not your regular "gorgeous young woman falling in love with a dashing no good rake", oh, no, this was such a real story. Fourty-nine year old, mother of 5 and grandmother, Frances finding herself AND finding love with 47 year old James. It sucks when you can't find words to describe such an intense and deeply moving story. All I can think of is...WOW, this book is so wow. I want to read it all over again. I just hate when these books end. I would be happy to read Robin's books forever. Some points to mention *smex...this book has so much smex. I read some reviews where it was thought the smex was too clinical, and while it was very precise, to me it wasn't clinical. I felt the emotions all through the scenes. *Older couple romance. This is sort of a warning if you like your heroines 20 and your heros 30. They are widow and widower and have gown children. *Very intense, romantic, sensual, cute, funny, and interesting. Even the secondary characters were brilliant. I hope they all got their HEA. *Educational. Boy, did I learn a lot reading this book. Now I feel like I have to read up on the case this book was based on, and all the interesting "machines" they had in the late 19th century. whew...I need a cigarette.

  3. 4 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    It has been nearly six years since Ms. Schone's last novel 'Gabriel's Woman' and in that time the erotic romance genre has grown from a few paltry titles into one of today's hottest markets in women's fiction. E-books have popularized erotic romance, making them widely available as well as giving newer romance writers their first taste of publication. Even Harlequin, seeing the way of the wind, has gleefully jumped into this market with its Blaze and Spice lines. With the popularity of this genr It has been nearly six years since Ms. Schone's last novel 'Gabriel's Woman' and in that time the erotic romance genre has grown from a few paltry titles into one of today's hottest markets in women's fiction. E-books have popularized erotic romance, making them widely available as well as giving newer romance writers their first taste of publication. Even Harlequin, seeing the way of the wind, has gleefully jumped into this market with its Blaze and Spice lines. With the popularity of this genre, it is to be expected that some books which purport to be erotic romances concentrate heavily upon the erotic and leave the romance somewhere out of the final edit. Far from being a prude or a purist (because I do enjoy plain old erotica as well), I've found that these books attempt to out-kink their competition by throwing in as many sex scenes as they can encompassing practically every form of loveplay imaginable. However it is not just the sex that makes an erotic romance erotic. It is a skillful blending of plot and characters who come to life and become more than words on a page as well as the sexuality that makes an erotic romance not only worth reading, but keeping. I own every book Ms. Schone has written as well as the two anthologies, Fascinated and Captivated and it is her two novellas in each--A Lady's Pleasure and A Man and A Woman--that I find myself re-reading simply because they're so passionate and true. Ms. Schone's books are easily some of the most character-driven in any genre. One thing is that she has never written the standard and boring romance trope of perfect people with perfect bodies who get together and have perfect sex. In Scandalous Lovers she continues that tradition with two of the most `realistic" people to date. Frances Hart and James Whitcox are so much like everyday people that it's almost impossible to believe that they never lived. By the time I finished the book, not only did I believe, but hoped they found happiness together. Frances Hart is truly every woman some time in her life who yearns and seeks out something more than just what society says should fulfill her. Frances is 49 (certainly not the typical nubile twenty-something heroine), a mother, a grandmother and a widow who needs to know that there is more to her life than that. She comes to London three months after her husband's death to find that something. What she finds is The Men's and Women's Club (which was the original title of the novel), a group of people from all walks of life who get together to discuss equality between the sexes. One member of this unusual gathering, a barrister named James Whitcox whose life outside of the club has also been regulated by what society deems acceptable for a man, seeks more than the dry, analytical discourses that to him completely skirt around what he truly wants to know. When Frances accidentally stumbles upon their meeting, James is quick to ask her what a woman desires. From that moment on, James and Frances become what society has never allowed them to be--a man and a woman who feel deeply and passionately. Together they discover what they've never known possible both sexually and emotionally as the rest of the members of the club struggle to make sense of their own growing desires and fears. The sex scenes between James and Frances are powerful, pulling the reader into these tender, intimate moments and making the reader feel every quiver and whisper against their skin. It's almost like reading about two people who are virgins, and in a way, they are. Some readers may find James' discovery of passion unbelievable considering his past liaisons, but sex is no substitute for finding one's soul mate and learning to live. It is Frances' eldest son David, seeing the changes London has wrought in his mother, is quick to castigate her for not accepting her lot as both a widow and a mother and decides that in order to "help" her, signs a lunacy order to have Frances put away in a sanitarium until she comes to her senses. Frances, hurt and betrayed refuses to submit meekly and decides to sue her own son for her emancipation. Sad to say this was an accepted practice in Victorian society for those women who didn't have the means to live their own lives. One of the most memorable lines in Scandalous Lovers comes from Mrs. Jenkins, Frances' sixty-six year old housekeeper whom she catches in an intimate moment with the butler, Mr. Denton--"A woman's got one life: she's got to reach out and grab it with both hands or it'll pass her by and leave nothing but a smelly old fart in her face." My only complaint with this book was that Frances' trial ended too soon and seemed to have been rushed. Though each of the members testified, it would have been fascinating to find out how their testimony changed them afterwards. That being said, Robin Schone is the standard by which every novel that considers itself to be an erotic romance should be held to. Her books have always been of the highest caliber; beautiful, poetic and unashamedly sexual with characters anyone of us can relate to on some level. Her stories are complex and make the reader consider their own beliefs towards sexuality, especially sexuality that isn't about the young and beautiful. Ms. Schone writes as she lives--a champion of female sexuality and her characters, though from a bygone age, still have much to show us in that we may have come a long way from the repressive Victorian era, but it doesn't take much to slide us back. And in the end, we all have the right to love.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mitzi

    Love this novel....Love this author.....And I wanted to get copy on my Kindle so I could reread on vacation, but the ebook price of $14.99 (as of 1/21/2011) is outrageous, imo.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ❤❤❤ One reviewer described this book as a "an arduous read" and for the first 30 chapters (200ish pages) I would agree. I found myself reading slowly to fully comprehend the complexities of each sentence. The book is very well written with very strong and effective details. When the H/h are finally physically intimate the degree of complexity is greatly lessened and it becomes a much less challenging read. The book offers a great deal of intrigue and eroticism with lengthy development for the H/h ❤❤❤ One reviewer described this book as a "an arduous read" and for the first 30 chapters (200ish pages) I would agree. I found myself reading slowly to fully comprehend the complexities of each sentence. The book is very well written with very strong and effective details. When the H/h are finally physically intimate the degree of complexity is greatly lessened and it becomes a much less challenging read. The book offers a great deal of intrigue and eroticism with lengthy development for the H/h's relationship, as well as a broad array of details about minor characters. It's unlike any other book of this genre that I've read and was meaningful and successful in so many ways. It also had a few deficiencies that could be reader specific, but weighed heavily on my rating. The cover is deceiving as it makes this book appear to be more contemporary than not. However, the story takes place in Victorian England around the late 1880s, and while it is historical and erotic I wouldn't necessarily classify it as romantic. At least not romantic enough. The story begins when the recently widowed, 49-year-old Frances Hart walks into a private meeting of the Men and Women's Club: a club that discusses human sexuality and related issues. Frances is uneducated and from the country but she knows what it is to be female and that's the only requirement she must meet to answer the question posed to her. James Witcox asks "What does a women desire?" then proceeds to question Frances more deeply and eventually she responds. In a time when women are still considered property and their wants, needs and desires are restricted and controlled by men, this Men and Women's Club lays the groundwork for a story that is enthralling, compelling, erotic, frightening and integral to what it means to be a man or women. One of the downfalls of this novel resides in the dialogue between the H/h. It was stilted sometimes, bizarre and incomplete others. It made the parts when James and Frances were together feel very odd and sometimes foreboding. Nearly every time the couple is in the same room with one another they have their hands on each others genitals and refer to their intimacy as being or going or coming home. It was uncomfortable and abrupt when I think it was meant to be comforting. They constantly asked each other what the other felt when climaxing or how someone tasted or if they were thinking of them when they touched their self, etc. Those questions weren't so bad but there were others that made me wince when they kept being repeated. It wasn't erotic exactly but I'm not sure how to classify it. Sometimes it felt like a deep commitment and connection between two people where no topic is off limits. Other times it felt lewd and lecherous and like they mutually used each other. Ultimately what these moments created was a sometimes passionless, unromantic and clinical "romance." For as much as James vowed internally that he'd never leave Frances I was never sure if this was more than just two lonely people finding sexual compatibility and contentment (for the first time and) for the time being. Maybe, if that's all it was it was meant to be then it would have even been enough for them, but not for me as a reader. I think it was more, much more, but it I wasn't always convinced. And though I enjoyed this story and many of those moments the H/h shared, there was too much of the abruptness and awkwardness to overlook. There are several episodes where something the couple has done in the past becomes an inside joke of sorts (dinosaurs, mussels, etc.) I thought those were very well done and effective. I absolutely loved the part on page 385 when Frances is drinking brandy and James tells her to taste it properly. Properly being from his mouth. Which is how they share brandy in one great scene earlier and it was so simple, clever, sensual, erotic and satisfying to read. It reinforced that connection between the couple that was sometimes sketchy and it spoke of the ease they felt in each others presence. Just a great little scene that made me very happy. All in all I think this book accomplishes its goal. Some reviewers said it was smutty or trashy but I couldn't disagree more. There were moments when I wasn't sure where intentions lie but there was never a moment when I doubted that the author wanted me to see this relationship as one of the deepest and most fulfilling for these two characters. At times the relationship was enviable and was made up of an intimacy that most people will never know. It was beautiful and remarkable and animal at its best. It was detached and exhausting at worst.

  6. 4 out of 5

    KatLynne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A keeper and a favorite! This is my first read by Robin Schone and I loved it! Forty-nine year old Frances Hart is a recent widow. This mother and grandmother has dedicated her life to caring for her home, her husband and family. Her life has been centered around details and she's never experience passion. Now, a widow of three months, she's seeking more than what society says should be fulfilling. Her quest leads her on an erotic journey with unexpected but delightful results. Barrister James W A keeper and a favorite! This is my first read by Robin Schone and I loved it! Forty-nine year old Frances Hart is a recent widow. This mother and grandmother has dedicated her life to caring for her home, her husband and family. Her life has been centered around details and she's never experience passion. Now, a widow of three months, she's seeking more than what society says should be fulfilling. Her quest leads her on an erotic journey with unexpected but delightful results. Barrister James Whitcox is tired of living a life of drudgery and duty. While having experienced many sexual liaisons, James seeks true passion. When Frances accidentally interrupts a meeting, James quickly and boldly asks what women desire. Her honesty and need inspire him and from that point on the pages are filled with sizzling chemistry as they tutor each other in discovering physical attraction and passion. Schone has crafted one of the best erotic romance novels I've read. The historical aspects as well as the age of the MC's are a refreshing change. It's very well written, includes complex, lovable characters and a plot twist giving even greater period detail. The intimacy and tenderness surrounding this couple also make this a more pleasurable read. There are some books that I greatly enjoy and cannot bring myself to stop reading until the last page is turned. When finished, I hate that it has ended. This was one of those books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    More than once I said to my friend that one or the other dialogue is really stupid and it is true, more than once I wanted to put it down and read something else. Yes, it’s a typical Schone book because the story has LOTS of parallels with “A Lady’s Tutor”, too many in my opinion. Frances walks into a meeting of the Men & Woman Club without knowing their goals and she answers a question asked by James Whitcox. She’s end 40s, mother and grandmother and a widow of several months – not long enough More than once I said to my friend that one or the other dialogue is really stupid and it is true, more than once I wanted to put it down and read something else. Yes, it’s a typical Schone book because the story has LOTS of parallels with “A Lady’s Tutor”, too many in my opinion. Frances walks into a meeting of the Men & Woman Club without knowing their goals and she answers a question asked by James Whitcox. She’s end 40s, mother and grandmother and a widow of several months – not long enough in her son’s opinion for not wearing mourning colors – and she moved to London to live her life. Her honesty makes the members of the club talk because they haven’t heard somebody’s opinion on things that clearly. Nobody ever talks about needs of a woman and what a woman wants but Frances does. It’s a secret club and within the next couple of weeks/ meetings Frances is voted into the club and they start to talk more openly about erotica, they look at French cards, visit the secret parts of a book shop and Frances starts a relationship with James. The erotic scenes are far away from being erotic or romantic, at least most of them. Most are bretty blunt and so not Schone’s style. In my opinion even Frances is a bad copy (at least her optical features) from Elizabeth Petre, or do all woman in her mid/end-40s look the same? One day James buys a house for them and always speaks of “their house” but they aren’t a couple they only have a sexual relationship and aren’t about to get married. So why can they not spend time at her or his “old” place? He sleeps at his rooms at the court most of the time but he has to have a normal room somewhere anyway. That’s rather strange in my opinion. Also the dialogues about sex toys and things like that seem to be abstruse, if it is forbidden you cannot go into a library and find those items that easily in a normal bookshop especially if it is forbidden, against the law, illegal. I was quite disappointed in the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ~ Lei ~ Reading Is An Adventure ~

    ETA 8/2013 - Rereading this sensual, erotic story for the umpteenth time - I think this is my favorite RS story to date. My second Robin Schone book and not my last, by any means. TheFountainPenDiva’s review is excellent and comprehensive so I can't really add anything to it. This is a beautifully-written, very intimate love story of an older couple in Victorian times who are in the right place in the right frame of mind to find and recognize each other. Two people trying to find a loving connecti ETA 8/2013 - Rereading this sensual, erotic story for the umpteenth time - I think this is my favorite RS story to date. My second Robin Schone book and not my last, by any means. TheFountainPenDiva’s review is excellent and comprehensive so I can't really add anything to it. This is a beautifully-written, very intimate love story of an older couple in Victorian times who are in the right place in the right frame of mind to find and recognize each other. Two people trying to find a loving connection and acceptance, a home with and for each other. And ironically, these two people affected other Club members enough for them to make a stumbling start towards acceptance as well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    PT

    Another keeper. I am amazed with the various character types that she is able to keep coming up with. I think this was my favorite so far. I find it appropriate that they met a sex discussion group. I enjoyed the scenes with the group. It does seem like it easier to discuss things with strangers that it is with friends and family.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    I bought and read this book because it said something like 'best selling erotic fiction' on the cover. I'm interested in what the general population considers erotic. This, though, just made me wildly uncomfortable. I know it's stereotypical that women like to talk. About everything. I mean, I can even see how real discussion of feelings and sensations could bring lovers closer together. I'm not such a good "talker" myself, but I can see why it's attractive. That's all fine and well, but I canno I bought and read this book because it said something like 'best selling erotic fiction' on the cover. I'm interested in what the general population considers erotic. This, though, just made me wildly uncomfortable. I know it's stereotypical that women like to talk. About everything. I mean, I can even see how real discussion of feelings and sensations could bring lovers closer together. I'm not such a good "talker" myself, but I can see why it's attractive. That's all fine and well, but I cannot, in good conscience, find eroticism in this book. I cannot imagine being in the midst of an orgasm and having my partner stop to talk about my engorged clitoris or quivering womb. I mean, really? That's the complete opposite of a turn on. For me, this is NOT what fantasies are made of. So much so, that I have a hard time believing that it is for any person. I am putting far too much thought into a simple trash novel. I'm going to go ahead and stop now.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dawn ♥ romance

    This erotic story involves two widows, James age 47 and Frances age 49 who meet in a group that discusses sex. This was more than a very erotic novel. It deals with woman’s rights and the legal control men had over women in 19th century England. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night finishing this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I didn't like this book at all, read about half and gave up. The writing to me was just too flat. I couldn't feel any emotion at all in this book. The story could have been great, but because of the 1 dimensional characters it couldn't interest me enough to stay with it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Afton

    so so incredibly odd. all over the place, erotic in the way a drunken fumbling with a stranger might be. not at all romantic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annalice

    I wish I had written this review soon after I read the novel because I had so many great things to say about it, and I fear that this won't be such a great review, nor cover everything I want to say. I guess this took place during the regency period, so it's technically a regency romance, but it is so unlike the regency novels I read. For starters, it is far more realistic. It was sad how none of them had passionate/fulfilling sex and they were both in their late 40s. The way they approached lear I wish I had written this review soon after I read the novel because I had so many great things to say about it, and I fear that this won't be such a great review, nor cover everything I want to say. I guess this took place during the regency period, so it's technically a regency romance, but it is so unlike the regency novels I read. For starters, it is far more realistic. It was sad how none of them had passionate/fulfilling sex and they were both in their late 40s. The way they approached learning their bodies and how to please each other was very childlike in their discovery. I also found the plot fascinating. James's court case was very interesting. But it was unclear whether he believed that Mary (I think her name was) killed her husband. Frances asked him, and he was like I can't say, and I was like damn. Sometimes it was hard to follow. I'm quoting Brandi's review here because I felt this way too: "They constantly asked each other what the other felt when climaxing or how someone tasted or if they were thinking of them when they touched their self, etc. Those questions weren't so bad but there were others that made me wince when they kept being repeated. It wasn't erotic exactly but I'm not sure how to classify it. Sometimes it felt like a deep commitment and connection between two people where no topic is off limits." I originally put down the book because I guess I got overwhelmed by all the names of the Men and Women's Club (???). A lot of the women there seemed horribly prude. The outings they went on were interesting, but I was just waiting for the romance to heat up and for Frances to finally act on her feelings and not restrain because she couldn't get wet anymore naturally (I think that's why she thought she would be undesirable to men). It was also interesting how at the end of the novel, the author wrote the beginning of romances for the other members of the club. This book is similar to Robin Schone's "The Lady's Tutor" in that it is "forbidden" for women to find pleasure and society disapproves of them doing so. It is still crazy to me that her son tried to put her in a mental hospital for having a new man. Now that I think about it, it does seem unrealistic...hmmm....Kids have to accept if their parents have relationships with other people after their spouse dies. Also, thank god, they won the court case. I think Robin Schone is an amazing writer, and during the course of reading this book, I followed her on Goodreads. Since I loved "The Lady's Tutor" and this book so much (though I did prefer the former), I'm planning on reading more of her books. It was funny what Frances & James did in the park with the dinosaurs, lol. I felt the ending was too rushed, and why all of a sudden, was her son hugging her and she totally forgave him? I felt that this was a really deep, meaningful book and it stuck with me way after I finished reading it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gena

    This author defines slow burn erotic romance for me :) I love it when she brings two characters together and they struggle through their imperfections, insecurities, etc. to become whole. That's what she's done here with James and Frances. Plus side: I enjoy books with older heroines and story lines where the hero/heroine have real conversations and struggle through to be honest with each other. Down side: it was really too too long and I've read a few of her books now so I definitely know that This author defines slow burn erotic romance for me :) I love it when she brings two characters together and they struggle through their imperfections, insecurities, etc. to become whole. That's what she's done here with James and Frances. Plus side: I enjoy books with older heroines and story lines where the hero/heroine have real conversations and struggle through to be honest with each other. Down side: it was really too too long and I've read a few of her books now so I definitely know that they used to clean wool with benzene :)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joycee

    Other than the consistent usage of “forth” to mean something that comes after the third in a series, I enjoyed this evolution of James’s and Frances’ love for one another. I don’t think they acted inappropriately for their ages ... maybe just for the setting? 😁 The secondary characters are also entertaining without distracting from the main storyline. I see that there other books in the series - not sure if/when I’ll get to read them ...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frances Hughes

    Amazing Beautifully written story that managed to be erotica and an expose of their awful treatment of women by men in the nineteenth century. So very refreshing to have the central characters so mature: most romantic fiction and erotica reflects a world where only young people enjoy sex and there alternately any good books involving older heroes and heroines.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sonia N.

    Beautiful love story! I felt like I was a part of the story or watching it play out!! It is so detailed and sensually written! I love her characters, the way she describes them, what they are feeling. Unexpected love story of two widows!!! It is a must read!!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jana Smith

    Such a great story. This waa the 5th book of Robin's that I've read and by far my favorite. Can't wait to read the next one. Thank you Ms Schone

  20. 4 out of 5

    Garden

    This story turned out to be way more than just a story about sex. I was very surprised by this book and I enjoyed it greatly.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denise Kozik

    I was looking forward to an erotic romance featuring mature characters. I found absolutely nothing romantic or erotic about this novel. Ick!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    I've always been fascinated by the late 19th century. What I like about this period is that I think it has so many similarities to the late 20th century. Both periods experienced rapid technological change--not just improvements on technology, but entirely new things that completely changed people's lives. Electricity. Refrigeration. Women's Lib vs. Computers. Cell Phones. My hateful Blackberry. It was an exciting time to live in, and also an awful one--read anything on American immigration in t I've always been fascinated by the late 19th century. What I like about this period is that I think it has so many similarities to the late 20th century. Both periods experienced rapid technological change--not just improvements on technology, but entirely new things that completely changed people's lives. Electricity. Refrigeration. Women's Lib vs. Computers. Cell Phones. My hateful Blackberry. It was an exciting time to live in, and also an awful one--read anything on American immigration in that period and it doesn't even begin to touch upon how terrible some people's lives were. Of course, the other thing that characterizes this period, especially in England, is the sheer repression of men and women emotionally. The strict social mores. Calling a chicken breast a "bosom" because "breast" is obscene. But in reality, there was a lot going on behind this facade of respectibility, especially in the cities. I've read a lot of books on this time period, both fictional and romance, and Robin Schone's "Scandalous Lovers" is one of the few which has stayed with me. I read it several days ago, and can't stop thinking about it. The story is loosely based on a real club that existed in England at about that time, called the Men's and Women's club. The purpose of the club was to discuss sexuality (love the term "sexology") in a rational and empirical manner. I can just imagine the real meeting in my head: suffragettes, Malthusians, and other forward minded thinkers discussing sex in a time when sex was completely taboo. When discussing condoms got you thrown in jail for obscenity. When relations between a man and a woman were supposed to take place fully clothed, in the dark. And worse. One of the things I love about Robin Schone is that her characters are significantly older than those in a typical romance novel. Francis, the heroine, is fourty-nine, a grandmother and post-menapausal, and James, the hero, is fourty seven . Both recently widowed. When Francis accidentally walks into a meeting of the Men's and Women's club, James asks her a simple question: What do women desire? God love her, Francis answers. But not in a way that James expects. Let's just say that her presence changes everything about the club, and about James. It's a very sweet love story, very tender, but also very sexual, sometimes uncomfortably so. James is the kind of character that stays with you for a long time afterwards, someone who has made terrible mistakes in his past and clearly takes responsibility for them. It's pretty obvious he's in love with Frances from the get-go, but like most of Schone's books, there's no build up to the happy ending where he loves her and she loves him and they get married and live happily ever after. (In many of Schone's books, no one ever even says the words "I love you.") From a historical perspective the book is fascinating. Certainly the history of sexuality isn't a topic any history major comes across in school, but I learned a lot from this book I didn't know before: that all condoms came in tins with Queen Victoria's face on them, that bookstores within bookstores sold everything and anything you could possibly imagine--and the various definitions of "French Postcards" (including Billiards, Renters, and Mothers and Fathers, and I'm not telling you what those are, either.). Most importantly, the story is really about freedom, and Schone is an unabashed feminist, which comes through in all her books. Some of her observations on the nature of male/female relations and especially husbands/wives are so insightful that I had to put the book down and think about them for a minute or two before continuing. She nails squarely on the head why women wanted true liberation, and why women's sexuality was an inherent part of that struggle. Frances's relationship with her son is heartbreaking, but although I can see both sides, what he does to "protect her" is absolutely terrifying. As a woman, I think it's safe to say that all of us females should thank the powers that be every day that we live in this century and not that one. We used to joke as historians about what we think we would have been like if we'd lived in different times in history, and I've forever stated that I would be the old spinster lady with 20 cats; but this book reminds me that I would not even be the person I am if I lived in that time. Everything liberated about me, everything I grew up believing about women, would have been beaten (either literally or figuratively) out of me. Maybe I would have been that good wife with six kids who never questioned Why? It's not your typical romance novel, that's for sure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Scandalous? Well, not by today's modern standards, certainly. But if a widowed woman and man came together in London about a hundred years ago and had a sexual relationship without being married first, it would certainly be "scandalous." Frances' son is certainly upset that a "woman of her age" shouldn't be having sex with a man who isn't his biological father, and her son certainly believes that her menopausal state has caused her to become "mentally ill", and that she needs to go to a doctor t Scandalous? Well, not by today's modern standards, certainly. But if a widowed woman and man came together in London about a hundred years ago and had a sexual relationship without being married first, it would certainly be "scandalous." Frances' son is certainly upset that a "woman of her age" shouldn't be having sex with a man who isn't his biological father, and her son certainly believes that her menopausal state has caused her to become "mentally ill", and that she needs to go to a doctor to be "fixed." This is a very interesting read. This novel explores what it was like to be living as a woman about a 100 years ago in England--how women were treated by men, who denied women the rights to their own sexuality. It explores how women weren't allowed to own their own property after the death of their husbands and how it passed directly to the hands of their eldest sons. Widows even became property and the "responsibility" of their sons, as though women were treated as children without the ability to make decisions and choices for themselves. There's also the discussion how women are treated in this time period regarding their rights to sexual pleasure. (We still have men in this day-and-age who believe that sexual pleasure is the exclusive domain of men). But 100 years ago women were taught by their mothers that women should just lay in bed and wait for their husbands on their wedding nights to be penetrated and to be used solely for the man's pleasure. And certainly menopausal women in that time period are expected to avoid the joys of sexual intimacy. I was both captivated and disturbed by this story. I gave it a 4-star rating rather than 5-stars because there were many times that I was extremely confused as to what was going on. Sometimes the story diverted to dialogue between people other than the main characters, and I had to rack my brain to ask "Who is this person, again, and what do he or she have to do with the main storyline??" This book isn't your typical "erotic romance" because it focuses much more on the study of feminism and women's rights in the early 1900s. I didn't find the "sex scenes" between Frances and James particularly arousing, as would be the case for typical erotic romance books. The sexual relationship was used more to strengthen the relationship between the two characters and to teach Frances that she could indeed enjoy sexual pleasure, something that she was denied during the span of her relationship with her late husband.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Nothing about the outside appearance of this book would suggest it would hold anything but the most superficial potential for emotional engagement, let alone incisive social commentary about women's rights and roles in Victorian England. That being said, don't be deceived by reviews like mine into thinking the sexual activity of the main characters isn't discussed in smoking-hot detail--it's rightfully published as "erotic romance," going considerably beyond your average bodice-ripper in terms o Nothing about the outside appearance of this book would suggest it would hold anything but the most superficial potential for emotional engagement, let alone incisive social commentary about women's rights and roles in Victorian England. That being said, don't be deceived by reviews like mine into thinking the sexual activity of the main characters isn't discussed in smoking-hot detail--it's rightfully published as "erotic romance," going considerably beyond your average bodice-ripper in terms of explicitness and extent of the love scenes. But somehow, the author manages to weave the two strands of the story together with considerable dexterity. The trick is that the characters explore, and ultimately transcend, their personal and societal limitations by means of exploring their sexuality. Despite my brain's tendency to collect random bits of information, like the names of authors whose romances I've read over the last 20 or so years of my life, like lint in a dryer screen, without discrimination or regard for available information capacity, I don't often go searching out more books by a single author. There are maybe 12-15 romance authors on my "auto-read" list, and thank the gods that they're prolific. The main way that an author gets on that list is by writing characters that I want to know more about, or better yet, setting up such a good network of characters that I want to follow other story lines after that book leaves a particular couple in a satisfactory place, while at the same time satisfying my inexplicable urge for well-written smut. I had yet to read a book classified as "erotic romance" (it's a sex-to-story ratio thing, as well as a sort of rating system so readers are fairly warned about the sexual vocabulary they're going to encounter. In case you were wondering.) that laid down a sufficiently intriguing, creative, or articulate network to warrant further exploration. But this author has. I'll be curious to see whether succeeding books will justify that attention.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenne

    This was another one recommended by RUSQ in their romance genre study article. I was expecting kind of a generic historical, but, um, not quite! It's about a 49-year-old woman around the turn of the century, and how she explores her sexual identity with a barrister she meets when she accidentally walks into a meeting of a club for discussing sex-related topics... There's a very definite feminist theme, and well, I was reading it in the doctor's office and had to stop because it was becoming a littl This was another one recommended by RUSQ in their romance genre study article. I was expecting kind of a generic historical, but, um, not quite! It's about a 49-year-old woman around the turn of the century, and how she explores her sexual identity with a barrister she meets when she accidentally walks into a meeting of a club for discussing sex-related topics... There's a very definite feminist theme, and well, I was reading it in the doctor's office and had to stop because it was becoming a little TOO scandalous for public consumption! I didn't totally love this, there was a little too much talking about sex instead of having it (though there's no shortage of that either) and the writing wasn't exactly inspired. Still, I'd recommend it if you like that sort of thing (and who doesn't).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Searock

    Penguin must be on crack! $14.99 for the kindle book, egad. I would have to be selling crack to afford this book. *Great rec's *My peeps loved it. *This is an author I really want to try. *Its in my favorite genre (the one in which all books are eventually purchased and gobbled up with great enthusiasm). But! I still cannot buy this book. I want this book!! I will never purchase this book at this price. To do so would be an act of insanity, in my opinion. I want to rant more, but have run out of words. And f Penguin must be on crack! $14.99 for the kindle book, egad. I would have to be selling crack to afford this book. *Great rec's *My peeps loved it. *This is an author I really want to try. *Its in my favorite genre (the one in which all books are eventually purchased and gobbled up with great enthusiasm). But! I still cannot buy this book. I want this book!! I will never purchase this book at this price. To do so would be an act of insanity, in my opinion. I want to rant more, but have run out of words. And for the record: I noticed the others by this author that I have wanted are both under $5 for kindle and not owned by Penguin and have just been purchased by me. Penguin can suck it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    I think Robin Schone is one of the best authors in Erotic Romance (the genre). Not because her books are extremely titillating or arousing, but because they are thoughtful, and tackle subjects that are not usually addressed by other authors. My favorite of hers is still The Lady's Tutor, but this one is also very good. The protagonists are 49 and 47 years old, with children, and in the case of Frances, with grandchildren. While this book should probably be shortened by about a quarter (it's dial I think Robin Schone is one of the best authors in Erotic Romance (the genre). Not because her books are extremely titillating or arousing, but because they are thoughtful, and tackle subjects that are not usually addressed by other authors. My favorite of hers is still The Lady's Tutor, but this one is also very good. The protagonists are 49 and 47 years old, with children, and in the case of Frances, with grandchildren. While this book should probably be shortened by about a quarter (it's dialogue-heavy), and is stilted in places, it is still a pretty involved read for an erotic novella, with well-researched social commentary sprinkled throughout.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    Robin Schone's writing is always lovely. So far every book I've read by her I was immediately sucked in by the writing. In Scandalous Lovers it's not different, although it was an interesting mix to make the main couple older than the usual. I rather liked that aspect of it too. I kind of felt like this wasn't her strongest book and I have to say even for me some of the language the writer used here either made me roll my eyes or was just plain ridiculous, particularly in the sex scenes. It was Robin Schone's writing is always lovely. So far every book I've read by her I was immediately sucked in by the writing. In Scandalous Lovers it's not different, although it was an interesting mix to make the main couple older than the usual. I rather liked that aspect of it too. I kind of felt like this wasn't her strongest book and I have to say even for me some of the language the writer used here either made me roll my eyes or was just plain ridiculous, particularly in the sex scenes. It was just a bit... much. But really it was still a nice story as a whole and I enjoyed it a lot.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pam Godwin

    Historical romance is NOT my thing. Too much bodice ripping for my tastes. So, why did this book tug, rip and pull at me? The 1880's women's movement is something I didn't quite appreciate until I read this. Schone poured these pages with historical details and emotional angst that made me angry, sympathetic and, in the end, very appreciative of the liberties I enjoy today. Even more, she brought very real problems related to couples over fifty. A nice change from the pert, naive twenty-somethin Historical romance is NOT my thing. Too much bodice ripping for my tastes. So, why did this book tug, rip and pull at me? The 1880's women's movement is something I didn't quite appreciate until I read this. Schone poured these pages with historical details and emotional angst that made me angry, sympathetic and, in the end, very appreciative of the liberties I enjoy today. Even more, she brought very real problems related to couples over fifty. A nice change from the pert, naive twenty-somethings that populate today's romantic fiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    Unlike many romance stories, the characters are not 22 and perfect. A recently widowed grandmother, Frances Hart, decides to leave her family's home for London, to experience life away from what she has always known. She accidentally walks into the Men's and Women's Club meeting, while visiting a museum, and becomes intrigued by their exploration of sexuality during a time when husbands and wives don't talk about their sex lives. She is immediately attracted to a member of the club, James, who i Unlike many romance stories, the characters are not 22 and perfect. A recently widowed grandmother, Frances Hart, decides to leave her family's home for London, to experience life away from what she has always known. She accidentally walks into the Men's and Women's Club meeting, while visiting a museum, and becomes intrigued by their exploration of sexuality during a time when husbands and wives don't talk about their sex lives. She is immediately attracted to a member of the club, James, who is a barrister. Their relationship develops and blossoms into a mature and exciting love story.

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