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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Once Upon a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

Posted by Irish in Guilty Pleasure1 Comment

Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Amazon Vine
Publication Date: 18 Jan 2011
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 0373775458
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Websites:
Place(s) Traveled to: London, England and Venice, Italy (1829)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Line: The sharp crack of thunder startled Lady Victoria Jane Emerson from slumber
Scandal Series Order
Book 2: Once Upon a Scandal
Book 3: The Perfect Scandal
Its no secret that romance books follow a pattern, before picking up a book you have an idea of what to expect. The same goes for the series of a romance book. If a book is a trilogy/quartet/or what have you then you will usually meet in the first book at least 1 part of the main characters in that book. As a reader, I like to try and figure out who those future main characters will be when I start off a new series as it adds a bit of detective work to the story. However, there were so few characters in PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL that I was hard pressed to figure out who might be the ‘stars’ of ONCE UPON A SCANDAL. Turns out…there is no character connection between the two at all. None. They aren’t siblings or best friends or former army buddies. Nothing. The only super slim loose tie between them is the epigraphs before the start of each chapter from an etiquette book that is popular in Marvelle’s world. 
In fact, when I first started ONCE UPON A SCANDAL I was slightly confused as the book was set a good 5 years before PRELUDE and I questioned myself and thought that I’d picked up the books out of order. Although about a quarter of the way through ONCE UPON time passes and the years then align. As with PRELUDE there are very few excess characters in ONCE. You pretty much have the hero and heroine….and the hero is absent for a good portion at the start of the novel. Then you have a cousin of the heroine and later on the sister and brother-in-law of the hero. I am not sure what I think about this minimalist approach to characters that Marvelle has in her books. On one hand it does allow for deeper focus on the main characters and there is less random head jumping moments. But on the other it makes for a bit of a monotonous story. While a large cast can get confusing at times, I do love it when I spot characters from other books I’ve read by the author in a scene. I love how those minor interactions really flesh out a world and make it more solid and less fictional.
Marvelle’s world is what it is though and while in PRELUDE the lack of other characters annoyed me a bit…mainly because there was no distraction from the hero/heroine (both of whom annoyed me in some form or another) I didn’t mind it as much in ONCE. This is because I liked the main characters better. Victoria had some spunk in her and she wasn’t afraid to let Jonathan know that he was an ass for doing what he did. The only thing that I wish there was more of was to see more POV from Jonathan during that 5 year period when he was in Venice. That part of the story was all done via letters from Victoria to Jonathan and you never really learned what he went through. Yes he does mention it briefly at one point, but I think if we had seen more of his life there before it would have made the climax of the book more climatic. As it was, I never really felt that tension or urgency to those moments that I was probably expected to feel.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book more than its predecessor but I’m unsure if I will ever read the final book in this trilogy, THE PERFECT SCANDAL. I’m not sure that I want to spend the time getting to know some other random characters who are plucked out of the ether just for this book and to never see those that came before again. The minimalist character approach might work for some readers, but for me….I think I’m a character girl…the more the merrier! I also want a bit more depth to my stories. I think that Marvelle starts out with a good idea but then she just sort of skims the surface of it. As a reader I want more. I want to feel like the characters in the book I’m reading are more than characters that they could be real. And for that to happen there just needs to be more information given into their thoughts and background than Marvelle was able to give me. ONCE was enjoyable. I’m not sorry that I read it. But there is no burning drive for me to finish the series.

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