28 October 2015

Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh (The Wicked Quills of London #2)

Summary from Goodreads:
Eva Leigh’s smart and sexy Wicked Quills of London series continues, with a playwright and a Viscount . . . together they may create a scandal worthy of the stage, but can their love last after the final curtain falls?

Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness . . . and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent—and irritatingly handsome—scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist...

For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen—and her inhibitions—he’ll do exactly that.

But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be . . . and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.

We were introduced to Maggie and Cam in the first book of Eva Leigh's new series, Forever Your Earl.  Maggie is Eleanor's playwright friend while Cam is Daniel's buddy-in-debauchery.  Cam is a devotee of the theatre, specifically of Maggie's Imperial theatre and her plays, known as burlettas - plays with sung dialogue (think Singspiel) - to avoid issues with new play licenses peculiar to the London theatre scene.  As Scandal Takes the Stage opens, Cam turns on the charm - or what he thinks is charm - when he finally meets Maggie only to run up against a brick wall of disdain.  Maggie has no use for idle, useless, noblemen.

Maggie's immediate problem is that she has writer's block.  She must produce a new burletta or the money walks.  Cam is a distraction.  She doesn't need distractions (yes, she does).  When the producers pull out of the Imperial after Maggie fails to deliver a workable play, Cam becomes the Imperial's patron and lures Maggie out to his country estate, an idyllic writing retreat.  There the two become close, very close, and Maggie begins to open up, both in her writing and to Cam.

Compared to Forever Your Earl, Scandal Takes the Stage is a romance with a much slower burn.  Earl snaps and sparkles while Scandal putters along until it starts to smolder.  I liked all the backstage swirl of the Imperial and the camaraderie of the theatre company, the costumers and the dancers and the actors.  The idea of the cross-class romance of Maggie (commoner) and Cam (viscount, who will eventually become a marquess) was very intriging.  But their story felt flat.  Not every romance has to buzz and fizz with tension but I felt as if their relationship was jumbled together without time for everything to gel on the page.  For instance, Maggie informs Cam that she comes from a Jewish family and, therefore, doesn't attend Sunday services.  This is an interesting tidbit, and an uncommon one, but then goes nowhere.  It isn't used by Cam's father to object to their relationship, that I recall, and it isn't explained how Maggie and Cam could marry in the Church of England (I'm not entirely certain of my English church history, but I think there were rules still in place about religion and the nobility in the early 19th-century).  Similarly, we don't get a satisfactory explanation as to why Cam is so resistant to getting married.

Scandal Takes the Stage is available now in the US - it's a nice follow-up to Forever Your Earl, but perhaps suffers a bit in comparison.

Dear FTC: I received a DRC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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