The Birthday Scandal by Leigh Michaels

October 30, 2012
Where’s Robert Altman when you need him?

Has anyone ever watched the Marx brothers' movie A Night at the Opera? If you have, remember the very funny scene where all these people keep showing up and are eventually crammed in this teeny tiny cabin? And, then someone opens the door and they all cascade out. Or have you ever sat through a Robert Altman movie? Think Gosford Park, Nashville, A Wedding, The Player. All those characters and conversations that must be followed. One of my all time favorite movies is Gosford Park and even with all those characters moving in and out of the scenes I am still able to follow along. There is a focus in it, something I can grab onto.

Why do I bring up the Marx brothers' A Night at the Opera and Robert Altman, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. The Birthday Scandal. This is the first book by Leigh Michaels that I’ve ever read. While I may read future books by her, they will have to have the criteria of having just one main couple in them. You see, we have three couples, their father and their uncle to wade through. Let’s see, there’s Max and his wife Isabel and her sister Emma and her love interest Gavin, and Lucien, (Isabel and Emma’s brother) and then Chloe, the girl who is supposed to marry the father, but really is Lucien’s love interest and Dukes and Marquess' and Sleepy and Dopey and…oops, wrong story.

You might think that because there are three couples, there would also be three stories and there are. Sort of. The problem I had with these stories was that instead of being separate stories, they were ALL intermingled into one story. And, in that one story there wasn’t any strong lead characters that I could focus on. No, they all had equal space allocated to them. With all these tales weaving together, it was hard for me to keep track of who was doing what to whom. One moment I would be reading about Max and Isabel’s disastrous marriage and the next paragraph there is Emma snarling at Lucien. I don’t mind secondary love stories in books, if there is a strong principal love story going on. That wasn’t the case here; in fact, they all seemed to be secondary stories. I also read numerous anthology/novellas. Some of them are good, some not so much. But this book cannot be classed as an anthology/novella either. In those books, there is usually a separation of story-lines, but that wasn’t the case in this novel. 

There was just too much of a jumble going on, so much in fact that there wasn’t any room for any good character development. There were possibilities in this story, the author is a strong writer…the words are all there. It’s the construction of the book that caused me problems. There was just too much muddle for me to enjoy this particular book.  

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot! A lot of fingers in the pie hot!

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