April 25, 2016
A cautionary tale.
Reviews are subjective, but there is subjective and then there is subjective. What follows should be a warning to all my fellow Romancelanders: Beware, my fellow Petunias, of bad movies masquerading as cult classics. You may ask, what does a bad movie have to do with a book review? Well, I'll tell you. So begins our cautionary tale.
Once upon a time someone (me) was having trouble sleeping. I have found that there is nothing better than a movie or a book to put me to sleep, so I stumbled downstairs and flicked on the television. Well, guess what. TCM was having a premiere of a supposed cult classic, so I started watching. Being a big fan of classic movies whether they are cult or not I was prepared to be entertained and soothed at the same time. I was not prepared for the "badness" of this movie. This movie was not the first rotten movie I've ever see - no siree. When you've seen an elderly doped-up Bela Lugosi wrestling a fake octopus (Plan 9 from Outer Space), you may think you've seen them all. But not so. The movie I was watching was horrible, the sets were horrible, the supporting characters were horrible, the acting was excruciating but the most unacceptable part was the writing. Nothing brings a movie down faster than bad writing. In this movie it was an amateurish, stilted, embarrassing mess. It was a DNF movie for me. I turned it off. But you see I had a problem - I was still awake. I decided to read. Maybe the book would make me sleep and help me forget that wrenched movie. I opened up Caroline Linden's Six Degrees of Scandal and began. And, here is where a disturbing brain thing happened. I started reading the words in the language of the awful movie I had just watched - it was quite bizarre. The prose in the book was horrible, the words were stilted; it was as if I had a copy of Dick and Jane in front of me. I had to stop, close the book and think about it. I was actually quite surprised that the bad bad writing in the movie had manufactured itself into my brain so much that I was reading my book in bad-movie-speak. I did not sleep well that night - I kept hearing stilted voices in my head. The next day I picked up another book, concerned that I would not be able to return to Six Degrees of Scandal. OMG, was my judgement impaired? It took me three books to cleanse my palette and pick up Six Degrees of Scandal again. Thank goodness the stilted language I was hearing in my head had vanished. Let that be a lesson to me/you - the noise which filters through our world can affect the voice we hear when we read. It was a strange experience. Now onto the book.
Six Degrees of Scandal was a second chance at love story and though it was a standalone tale, I recommend that you refresh your memory by reading Love in the Time of Scandal. In that story we get to meet our heroine Olivia, our hero James Weston, but most importantly our villain Lord Clary. While Six Degrees of Scandal was a pleasant read, it was not one of Ms. Linden’s better stories. The tale was almost evenly divided between solving a mystery and the rekindling of lost love. I found the mystery intriguing at times and at times it slowed the story down. I have to say the same thing about the romance.
Olivia and James were both nice people. They were very very young when they first fell in love. They were too young to commit themselves to each other, or at least James was too young. Once he had Olivia and then proposed he was off on an adventure leaving her alone to face the music. So, he was rather an irresponsible young man. Olivia was still a teenager and while some may wonder why she didn't stand up to her father, I would suggest that legally she couldn't stand up to him - being an underage female in the Regency time period would have left her with few options. So she was forced to marry a man she hardly knew. When James returned from his business, he was devastated - but he also knew that the entire fiasco was his fault. Through the years Olivia and James maintained a nodding distance. Then Olivia's husband dies. She finds out that he has been keeping some secrets from her, some dangerous secrets. This was where the nasty villain Clary stepped in - he wanted something he thought Olivia had, but she didn't have any idea what that might be. Clary was a dangerous guy, he'd already tried to murder one heroine and now he's after another. Olivia turned to James for help and the race to the finish begins.
Olivia and James must find out what Olivia's husband was up to and at the same time keep Clary at bay. Finding out what Olivia's husband was up to was actually quite interesting, but the sparks between Olivia and James were missing. They just sort of fall into each other's arms again and the few bumps in the road were smoothed out fairly quickly. There was also a tie-me-up-trust-me scene in this book. I had a problem with that scene because there wasn’t any sexual tension building prior to it. The insertion of the tie-me-up was a jolt to my system. It takes more than a conversation about a scandalous book to create sexual tension between two characters.
We also find out who the mysterious Lady Constance was, but you should be able to figure that out yourself if you pay close attention in this book. There was a cringe-worthy book burning scene toward the end of the story. I think it was supposed to be funny, but I found it embarrassing (might have been a leftover bad-movie-brain-thing.)
Overall, even with the bad-movie-speak, I found this story to be a pleasant read. Nothing earth shaking, nothing new - a nice visit.
By the way the name of the movie was/is Abar.
Time/Place: Regency England