A Little Scandal
by Patricia Cabot, historical (2000)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-97413-2

Author Patricia Cabot effortlessly cooked up another reprisal of her early manic books such as Portrait Of My Heart and my favorite, Where Roses Grow Wild. Which means, of course, the humor, sometimes slapstick but always frantic, barges upon me with all the subtlety of an elephant stampede. Fun? You bet. Unfortunately, the author still hasn't manage to balance the frantic humor with convincing relationship development. After the laughter, little else remains.

The plot alone demands the issue of an arrest warrant by the Cliché Police. Kate Mayhew, "not beautiful, on the shelf, etc etc", has a Secret Past - a scandal if you will. (Don't worry, it doesn't involve anything like a Bacchanalian orgy in midnight or something, unfortunately). So what's a typical spinster to do? Become a chaperon to the daughter of the most rakish, handsome Marquis dude in town. Pfffttt. I can predict what will happen next already.

Did I mention that the Marquis, Burke Traherne, caught his wifey in an ai-yai-yai situation with a lover and is now adamant that he will never be caught in that love thing again? Ai-yai-yai indeed.

But no matter. The humor sweeps forward like a tidal wave. Burkey throws people out of windows, Katie frets and tries to say no to Burkey, Burkey throws more people out the window, daughter Isabel throws a tantrum, and then we proceed right to the hot ai-yai-yai thingies between Katie and Burkey.

You know what's intriguing about A Little Scandal? Underneath the fluffy I Wanna Star In Mr Bean facade of Katie and Burkey are psychopaths just waiting to be let loose. Come on, a man who keeps throwing people around just have to have some dark demons waiting to be unleashed. And Katie, with her fiery temper and slap-happy, claw-happy hands, make the perfect Mata Hari. Come to think of it, most Patricia Cabot books so far have this dark elements just lurking beneath the happy surface, don't they?

It's just unfortunate that while there are some embryo of fiery, dramatic emotions just waiting to be unleashed in this story, what mostly happens is forgettable humor that is good only while it lasts. Maybe Burkey and Katie should watch more Tarantino movies or something.

Rating: 78

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