Friday, July 15, 2011

In Defense of Category Romance: A Night of Scandal

Shy Puppy!
A Night of Scandal by Sarah Morgan is this month's book club pick over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, but lucky for me it also serves to further prove my point that category romance is a diverse and varied sub-genre. This is one of those cases where the tropes and silliness are used pretty sparingly, and as a result you are free to take the book seriously.

Nathaniel Wolfe is a movie star who can't stop acting. He has very dark past which he makes every effort to bury by constantly keeping up a persona as a bored and disinterested celebrity. Katie Field is a costume designer working on Nathaniel's latest play. When Nathaniel's past creeps up on him unexpectedly, he recruits Katie to help him escape. She's then drawn into his world and drawn to him as a person. Katie is a chatty person, and honest to a fault. Katie has some confidence issues which she hides by wearing drab cloths (the color of the adorable puppy). They are opposites in many ways, and so they are able to help each other and heal many past wounds together.

I'm a fan of the opposites attract thing, so this romance really worked for me. I thought the relationship had a nice pace to it and developed along with the characters. For such a short book, it spans a variety of settings and each reflects where the characters are emotionally--from London, to a secluded island, to Rio, to L.A. I especially enjoyed Nathaniel's back story and how Morgan chose to reveal it in pieces until the end when the reader grasps the full horrific picture. I liked Katie's personality, she's very optimistic and personable.

I didn't care for Katie's character arc. Basically the focus is on her finding confidence in herself (particularly with regard to her appearance). I get that this is a deep seated emotional issue for many women, and the author handles it with grace. However, it pales in comparison to Nathaniel's story of childhood abuse and overcoming his emotionally stunted existence. In some ways I kept wondering how Katie, of the relatively happy (if poor and frumpy) life could begin to understand Nathaniel's pain. It's a testament to Morgan's style that I did believe their happily ever after despite this sort of uneven development.

Overall, I recommend this book. It isn't to fluffy, nor is it too dark. There are a lot of touching emotional moments and a surprisingly satisfying romance. 4 stars.

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