St Martin’s Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-97413-2
Historical Romance, 2000
Author Patricia Cabot effortlessly cooked up another reprise of her previous manically-charged books. Which means, of course, the humor, sometimes slapstick but always frantic, barges upon me with all the subtlety of an elephant stampede. Fun? You bet. Unfortunately, the author still hasn’t manage to balance the frantic humor with convincing relationship development. After the laughter, little else remains.
The plot alone demands the issue of an arrest warrant by the Cliché Police. Kate Mayhew, “not beautiful, on the shelf, etc etc”, has a Secret Past – a scandal if you will. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve anything like a Bacchanalian orgy in midnight or something, unfortunately). So what’s a typical spinster to do? Become a chaperon to the daughter of the most rakish, handsome Marquis dude in town. Pfffttt. I’m sure you can ptell what will happen next already.
Did I mention that the Marquis, Burke Traherne, caught his wife in an oopsie situation with a lover and is now adamant that he will never be caught in that love thing again? Sigh.
But no matter. The humor sweeps forward like a tidal wave. Burkey throws people out of windows, Katie frets and tries to say no to Burke, Burke throws more people out the window, the daughter Isabel throws a tantrum, and then we proceed right to the hot snogs between Katie and Burkey.
You know what’s intriguing about A Little Scandal? Underneath the fluffy “I Wanna Star in Mr Bean!” facade of Katie and Burke are psychopaths just waiting to be let loose. Come on, a man who keeps throwing people around just have to have some dark demons waiting to be unleashed. And Katie, with her fiery temper and slap-happy, claw-happy hands, make the perfect Mata Hari. Come to think of it, most Patricia Cabot books so far have this dark elements just lurking beneath the happy surface, don’t they?
It’s just unfortunate that while there are some embryo of fiery, dramatic emotions just waiting to be unleashed in this story, what mostly happens is forgettable humor that is good only while it lasts. Maybe Burke and Katie should watch more Quentin Tarantino movies or something.