Liquid Silver Books, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-62210-250-1
Contemporary Romance, 2015
I suppose stranger things can happen, at least stranger things that the ones that take place in Stephanie Bedwell-Grime’s A Scandal in Paradise. Our photographer heroine Seren Miller was dumped on Valentine’s Day – her boyfriend announced that they should see other people. Never mind, at least she has to go to a resort in a tropical island – the name of this island is never given in the story, now that I think of it – to take photos of a married couple so she’d at least nurse her wounded heart in a lovely place. Thing is, her colleague arrives late and has to leave soon after (no, that is not dirty), the couple getting married check out before the ceremony is about to start, and Seren stands in with billionaire businessman Colton Houston (no laughing at the name, please, he’s loaded) and the two of them realize that they really are married after all. The hotel believe that they are the married couple, so a lovely time is to be had by all. But will the fake romance turn out to be real? Will Colton blow a fuse when the paparazzi finds out about his wedding?
And why would the paparazzi stalk a non-celebrity billionaire anyway – have the Kardashians all moved to Tibet or something? Oh yes, romance novel – moving on now.
The plot of A Scandal in Paradise feels a little too surreal for me, and I find myself constantly distracted by whether this or that turn of event would really happen or be taken seriously in real life. I also feel that this story is a whole lot of molehill about nothing – I suppose Colton may be understandably worried that Seren may be entitled to his money for no reason, but I’m sure a halfway decent lawyer could resolve this matter. It’s not like Seren is seeing dollar signs anyway. But if these two decide that there is nothing a lawyer can’t sort out, then the story would be more low key than usual, and there won’t be much of a story to be had here.
The characters are fine. Seren may seem like the typical “just jilted, now watch me hump a hot guy who turns out to be my true love” heroine, and Colton seems to be another surly guy who manages to make so much money at a young age while looking good and retaining all his hair and teeth in the process. Still, what could have been a Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern tale is made a little bit more different from the norm with Colton actually having very little stubborn alpha mule baggage. Yes, he may be loaded, but he’s not some crazy man-child with Madonna/whore issues. Maybe it’s because he’s American, and not some stumpy midget from Greece? Anyway, let’s pretend I never said that last sentence.
While I’m perfectly fine with the characters and I have no problems reading this story in one go, I find that the accelerated pace of the romance, coupled with the heroine basically on the rebound, makes the whole love story rather hard to take seriously. Still, this may not so bad if the rest of the story isn’t just as hard to take seriously. The whole set-up feels artificial and forced, and I feel that the author could have pulled all this off better if she had opted for a more farcical tone in this story. Alas, this is a pretty sober story, so the whole package feels erastz and contrived at the end of the author. I’d always wonder whether the author could have executed the whole thing better, or it would have been better if she had gone with a different plot altogether.