I’m excited to offer this book review of my friend Margaret Locke’s third novel. A romance author, she writes strong female leads who are hoping for a second chance at love — and in life. Enjoy!
In this third installment of the Magic of Love series, author Margaret Locke continues an epic adventure of love and time travel, made possible through the magic of writing.
Having read Locke’s first two books, I think this is a fitting third chapter.
In the first one, A Man of Character, bookstore owner Catherine Schreiber discovers she has the power to write real life love connections when she realizes she’s been unknowingly dating men she wrote into existence years ago.
In the second book, A Matter of Time, Cat’s best friend Eliza James has a second chance at love when Cat writes her a love connection with a duke in 1812 England.
The third book, A Scandalous Matter, brings the story full circle by sending Eliza’s new sister-in-law Amara Mattersley to the bookshop to live with Cat and forge a new life for herself in 21st-century America.
Though it isn’t necessary to read the first two books before this one (each book can stand alone as its own story), I think it’s probably more fun reading them in order.
Amara, we learned in Book 2, is quite a spitfire, so it’s fun following her into the future (our present) and watching her discover the wonders of things like indoor plumbing and refrigeration.
But Amara doesn’t come to the future for its technological advances. She comes to escape the oppression of scandal that has ruined her chances at love and happiness in her own era. She wants independence, she wants an education previously reserved only for the men in her life, and most importantly she wants a second chance in a place where society’s cruel expectations aren’t (usually) as damning as they are in Georgian England.
Thankfully, Amara gets all she’s looking for and more as she finds a sympathetic friend in Cat, an unexpected love interest in university professor Matthew Goodson, and a new world of opportunity in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s a fun little story of love and independence — but its real magic is in how it actually achieves so much more than that.
This book offers a wonderful social commentary on the way things have — and maybe haven’t — changed over the last 200 years, but I love its largely optimistic view on life and our seemingly infinite number of opportunities for forgiveness and the chance to make things right.
In the 1800s, Amara made one foolish choice to sleep with a man she thought was going to propose to her — who turned out to be married already — and for years afterward she was slut-shamed by her social circle. Even worse, she can’t forgive herself. But in 2016, Amara learns that mistakes don’t have to define us, and that women, though maybe not as equal to men in society’s view as they would like to be, can still in many ways “have it all.”
This offers a remarkable juxtaposition for the reader to experience through someone like Amara — a forward-thinking young woman who’s just escaped a world that viewed her as little more than property. While we in the 21st century can, reasonably, find ways to mourn how long it’s taken for women to make it this far — earning the right to vote in 1920, but still, nearly 100 years later, unable to secure equity in the workplace — Amara celebrates that here, in contemporary America, she has access to a world-class education; she can choose, without shame, whether or not to marry; and she can be master of her own future — whatever challenges life throws at her.
It’s a refreshing reminder of all we have accomplished, regardless of how far we might still have to go. But maybe most stunning of all is how this novel calls to action any woman who feels pigeonholed into one path in life because of the choices she’s made.
Tomorrow is a new day, Locke tells us through her characters. It may not feel like it now, but the sun will come up. And when it does, we all get to decide what we’re going to do next — who we’re going to be and how we might challenge ourselves on to greater things.
Because here in 2017, women can do anything.
But more importantly, they have the choice.
A Scandalous Matter, by Margaret Locke, is available at Amazon or at www.margaretlocke.com.
My rating: Five Stars
Full disclosure: Margaret Locke and I are members of the Shenandoah Valley Writers, and I was a beta reader for this book before it was published. She gave me a free unedited copy to read, and, in thanks, she also gave me a free published copy. However, I did purchase the Kindle edition. As a beta reader, I offered her edits and opinions I thought would help her in completing her book. After publication, I read the book a second time before reviewing it.
I am planning a second review for Goodreads and Amazon in the next couple days that focuses more on the plot and characters, and less on the book’s themes.
This review is my own opinion of a book that I realized, while attempting to write a review, deserved a deeper look at its themes of love and self-forgiveness, and its commentary on society. I had already, before beginning my review, planned on giving this book five stars based on its plot alone, as I felt this is the best of Locke’s books so far.