May 26, 2014
What was I thinking?
Here's my brainstorm. The other day I was looking at my walls and walls and walls of
The first A book I selected was Matter of Scandal by Suzanne Enoch, which was written in 2001. Not only did I give this book an A, I gave it an A++. An A++!!! Man this book must really really really be good, I thought. Probably the bestest book ever! Well kiddoes, I must have been going through some kind of hormonal change in 2001, or maybe there was some kind of odd smoke in the air. After rereading Matter of Scandal I have to say while it was a joy to reread, it wasn't an A++ grade. Let's take a fresh look at Matter of Scandal.
First of all, if you are looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud, Matter of Scandal will hit the right spot. There is an especially funny carriage ride involving our hero Grey and a group of girl students. Here's the plot: Greydon Brakenridge, Duke of Wycliffe, hatesssss women, they get on his arrogant nerves, they are only good for one thing and other than that they are useless beings. He has been called to his uncle's estate because his uncle is having money problems. Grey's aristocratic solution is to raise the rent on all of the estate's tenants. One of those tenants happens to be a... wait for it... girls' school. He hatessss girls too. They are just tiny women lying in wait for the time they can land him or any male in awful matrimony. While Grey is rubbing his hands together in glee anticipating the reaction of the headmistress of the school to the tripling of rent, little does he know that the headmistress of the school is Emma Grenville, the same unknown woman he passed on the road on his way to his uncles house earlier... and that woman intrigued him.
As we might expect, Emma is not a happy camper when she receives notice of the rent increase and she storms to the estate to protest. When she finds out who is actually behind the increase, sparks fly. It is instant, uncontrollable lust when Grey and Emma meet. In the beginning of this book, whenever these two are together it is a fun war of the sexes, each trying to outmaneuver the other and eventually backing themselves into a situation which will cause a scandal.
The dialogue between Grey and Emma is extremely witty. They are supported by some really well-written secondary characters in the person of Tristan, Grey's friend, and five young female students from the academy. The young teenage girls in Matter of Scandal were perfect; they were written with intelligence that wasn't beyond their years. I loved when Grey and the girls interacted. When I was reading these funny parts of the book, I could understand my original rating. Where the rating started to go down was when Grey and Emma finally caved in to their attraction. I had a problem with Emma, who was painted with a strong sense of right and wrong, surrendering that righteousness knowing that it could ruin her and in ruining her also lose her means of livelihood.
I also wish that Grey had not left Emma alone to face up to the horde of unhappy parents. Granted, he tried to get there and had some what I think were supposed to be slapstick moments charging off to save his lady love. But in the last portion of the book, the flavor of the story had a subtle seriousness added and that part of the book didn't work for me. I would have liked to see the wager that Grey and Emma had contracted to play out to the end. Instead it is interrupted by the rumor of scandal for Emma.
Overall, I found Matter of Scandal to be a highly enjoyable book, maybe not quite up there with the best of the best always to be remembered as a classic piece of literature, but still a fun read. However, I will have to change my rating because when the scandal makes its appearance the tone of the book changes and I think I would have liked it better if it could have maintained the mad, funny, war of the sexes until the end.
Time/Place: Regency England