Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Release Day Review: Yours in Scandal by Lauren Layne

Yours in Scandal by Lauren Layne
Montlake Romance

When politics and romance are a perfect blend!

Citizen magazine's New York's "Man of the Year" regarded as a perfect springboard to launch Mayor Robert Davenport's candidacy for the gubernatorial election; at least his campaign manager thinks so. With the welcome publicity, it's also an ideal opportunity to upgrade his marital status from single to at least dating. Not surprisingly, the shrewd campaigner knows of the right woman for him. Due to her connection, she's also a useful way to gain dirt on his opponent. Robert isn't keen on the idea but agrees anyway, however, when he meets Adeline Blake, it ignites a long-dormant spark of attraction detrimental to his career!

NY Governor's daughter, party-girl Addie Brennan mysteriously disappeared some years ago. Now unbeknown to only a couple of friends, she's back and living as Adeline Blake right under her father's nose. She's forging a career as an event planner, rebuilding her life in the city she escaped. When get she gets a call from the mayor's office for an event consultation, she sceptical about why they would ask her company to organise an event. However, it's a business opportunity with a high profile client she can't pass up. On meeting the client hosting the leaving party she quickly realises professional and personal boundaries risk becoming blurred as she gets to know mayor Robert Davenport.

The author's signature New York backdrop is familiar but the protagonists feel more relatable in this first book of the Man Of The Year series. Robert is wealthy but grounded. Portrayed as a politician with a social conscience, he's someone who plays fair with honesty and integrity. Addie/Adeline is a woman trying to define herself in a world where she's been misunderstood. Her family background and upbringing connect her with Robert Davenport, as does their loss of a parent. The default status of their relationship starts as 'It's complicated' but thanks to their mutual trust and faith in each other to do the right thing, they eventually find their happy ending… together.

Ms Layne has ramped up the heat in this sexy romantic comedy. The background is the world of politics but thankfully, there's not a policy or political thought insight. Well paced, laced with humour and witty dialogue it's a perfect novel to distract you from real-life drama. Yours in Scandal sets the scene for a promising new series, a perfect read for fans like myself. For those who haven't picked up a novel by this author, Robert and Addie's story is a good place to start.

***arc generously received courtesy of Montlake Romance via NetGalley***

Release Day Review: The Operator by Gretchen Berg

With an enticing blurb and cover design triggering memories from my own childhood, The Operator filled my head with presumptive expectations before I began reading only for me to find this novel is something far more than a nosey woman listening in to other peoples' conversations.

Vivian Dalton (nee McGinty) grew up in Wooster, Ohio as someone always in the middle. She was either too young to join in with the older children or too old to play with the younger ones. Always alone when her family had visitors, Therefore to pass the time, 'Vivy' began eavesdropping on the older girls, listening in on their teenage gossip. It was the start of a habit she would carry forward to when she began working as an operator for Bell. Listening in to other peoples gossip distracted her from her own life until she overhears gossip about herself!

Set in the early nineteen fifties with flashbacks to when Vivian grew up, the author paints a detailed portrayal of how life was in a small Midwestern town. One striking fact is none of the characters are particularly likeable. Although I must stress, this isn't a negative observation. Vivian masks her insecurities with a defensive attitude. She's embarrassed about her lack of education after having to leave school after eighth grade to work and bring income to her family household. Therefore it's striking when we get to know another woman, Betty who despite coming from a wealthy family and going to college, gives up any ambitions to become a stay at home mother with four children. Passing her idle time gossiping and arranging pretentious get-togethers to spread rumours. Two women from very different backgrounds but equally unhappy with their lives.

The narrative is a bit choppy until you get used to the format as it goes back and fro including side plots too. Towards the end, the momentum speeds up as everything begins to connect. Much ground is covered in what's an intricate story and kudos to the author for pulling it all together.

Overall, a soundly written d├ębut novel which unfortunately didn't win me over one hundred percent, yet, I'm confident, many readers who like books written about this era who will enjoy it immensely.

***arc generously received courtesy of William Morrow via Edelweiss+***

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