November 10, 2015
I probably should sit back and let this one settle a bit, but I'm not going to. My first reaction to Scandal Takes the Stage was, "Wow, at last a powerful book." Then my negative brain
Cam. Cameron Chalton, Viscount Marwood has always lead a privileged life. People have kissed his big toe whenever he enters the room. He can have any woman he wants and he has. In fact, women talk about his prowess - he is a legend. He is also one of those rakes who in real life may have contracted some nasty Mr. Toad fall-off-disease, but he's not real, so that's not going to happen. But let's just say the rumors abound and women are just palpitating to try him out. There are two people in this book who are not impressed with Cam's shenanigans: his father and Margaret “Maggie” Delamere. We will talk more about his father later; right now let's turn our attention to Maggie. Maggie is a playwright - a good one, and Cam is obsessed with her plays. Actually Cam is obsessed with the theater. This actually was one of my sticking points. Cam's obsession bordered on being a scary kind of obsession and even after the explanation of why he "luved" the stage so much, I still didn't buy into the overwhelming need he had for hanging out at the theater. It's not just Maggie's writing which captivates him, it's the whole theater experience. While this was a fascinating part of the book, I felt it was also one of the weak spots because I never fully understood the why or maybe the “why” explanation wasn't good enough for me to believe.
Then there is Maggie. She's having a writer's block, which isn't good when you’re a playwright. Especially when that is how you are putting the food on the table for yourself and everyone else in the theater. One day the backers tell her that she must deliver the script or lose their backing. She is faced with a dilemma, which she solves by approaching Cam, a man she despises. Why does she despise him? Well he is a rake and she hatesssss all rakes. The reason for that is revealed later. Even after she gets his financial backing she still has writers block, so he proposes she leave London and go to his estate in the country, away from everything she knows. She accepts. It is at this point in the story that I absolutely adored the book. I loved her time in the country - by herself. The writing is so good in this part of the novel that I wished it had lasted just a little longer. It is while she is here in the country, away from Cam that she finally grows to know him. She wanders the halls and rooms of his estate, finding bits and pieces of him. The toys he played with, the stories he wrote has a child, the things he scribbled on the blackboard, and she listens to the stories the servants who knew him tell. Everywhere she wanders, she is surrounded by Cam. I was enchanted with this part of the story and the visual that was created of someone falling in love with a person who isn't there, just by looking at the things they have left behind. Cam becomes her muse. Of course, her idyllic time in the country with the essence of Cam doesn't last because back in London Cam can do nothing but miss her. So, he arrives at her doorstep (which is really his doorstep), and a different door to the romance is opened. But I have to say the moments when she is alone in the country with Cam's essence was a great piece of writing.
Once they are together in the country they become closer; become a couple. Both of them know that because of their different placement in the class system, they can never be a permanent couple. How the insurmountable solution is solved seemed a little rushed to me. However, I'm also not sure how much more the author could have added to her book without it becoming an epic.
Let's talk about the father. We were privileged to meet Cam's father in the previous book and he's came off as being a rather overbearing, stubborn man. He wants his son married to the right kind of woman, producing little heirs all over the place and he wants it now. We are visited by him again in the first few chapters of this book and I thought for sure he'd show up later in the book to ruin Cam and Maggie's relationship. (She is really not the right sort of woman for Cam.) However, much to my surprise he doesn't. There is only a short paragraph devoted to him in the epilogue. I am of two minds to this. I really don't care that he didn't have a bigger part in this book. Honestly, I'm getting tired of mean-spirited, overbearing, pushy, fathers in my romance books. On the other hand, I thought he received short shrift in this story. It was as if the author ran out of time and couldn't squeeze him in. Again, that's ok with me, but then why introduce him in the first place if one is not going to do something with him. See - back and forth, back and forth.
Overall, even with not fully buying into the reason for Cam's obsession and the short shrift to his father, I loved this story. I think what made this story so powerful for me was Maggie's alone time in the country - that was some really special writing.
Time/Place: Regency England