Anyone who’s ever seen those photos of celebrities in casual mode, wearing their sweats with their hair in a ponytail and no makeup on, knows how much difference a stylist can make in a person’s appearance. It makes you wonder how many ordinary people would look just as good on the cover of all those magazines if they had someone to do their makeup just right, to blow dry their hair so that even that cowlick lies flat, and dress them in designer clothes that fit perfectly.
In LOVE AND OTHER SCANDALS, my heroine, Joan Bennet, is like the “before” side of What Not to Wear. She’s not unattractive, but she doesn’t know how to look her best. The fashions of her day were designed with—as usual—slim women in mind. On a slender, petite woman, the trend towards ruffles and trimmings looked fine. But Joan is tall and curvy, and all those flourishes make her look…well, here’s what the hero thinks when he meets her for the first time in years:
And Joan knows all this. She knows she’s not attractive to men, and that nothing she does seems to make her look lovely (although she’s willing to try just about anything). When the hero, Tristan, begins paying her attention, she knows it’s not because he’s swept away by her looks.
Like many a person on What Not to Wear, Joan has no idea what will make her look good. Even worse, in 1822 there was a lot less tolerance for individual style. Cutting off all her hair and wearing pencil skirts was not an option. As an unmarried woman still living with her parents, Joan also has no money of her own; her wardrobe is dependent on her mother, who wants her to be fashionable and steers her toward the clothes are very much in style, even if they aren’t what make the most of Joan’s features and figure.
But then her mother falls ill and has to leave town for the healthier air of Bath. To chaperon Joan, Aunt Evangeline comes to stay. Evangeline is also tall, also curvy, and just unconventional enough to wear what suits her. Her dresses fill Joan with envy: Evangeline looks sleek and voluptuous, not fat and fussy. A change in hairstyle and wardrobe do what Joan once thought impossible. They make her look lovely, and any doubts she had about her new dresses are wiped away by the new way Tristan looks at her—not with amusement, but desire.
A makeover isn’t about changing the way she looks; it changes the way she thinks of herself. Confidence in herself is what Joan really needs, to stand up to her parents and wear what she likes and dance with the man she loves, even if her parents aren’t so keen on him. And it doesn’t have to be a radical makeover; a pair of jeans that makes you feel sexy and hip can work wonders.
AUTHOR BIO: This is Caroline Linden’s short version of her biography: Caroline Linden earned a math degree from Harvard University before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, nine books, two Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. Or a fashion designer. Possibly both; pink spacesuits would look so much better than white ones. But it turned out those were difficult careers to combine, and eventually the fashion designing fell by the wayside.
To continue reading this longer and very interesting version of Caroline Linden’s biography, please visit her website here.