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Book CoverLynneC’s review of A Scandal, A Secret, A Baby by Sharon Kendrick
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 19 Feb 13

I let myself get drawn back in, didn’t I? I should have known better. The first book in the series didn’t work for me, so why should the second?

I like the sound of the heroine. Justina is another ex-member of the girl band The Lollipops, but now she’s making a living songwriting for other people. She wrote the group’s songs, so the idea is plausible, though no explanation is ever given as to why she isn’t on the stage. Did she not like it? We never know. Much better than the pathetic waif Roxy of the first book.

Justina had an affair with a sexy Italian at the height of her fame, but when she found him in bed with another woman, she walked out. Now she meets him at Roxy’s wedding, and they spend the night together. Unprotected sex and a baby ensues.

So, what do I like? I like that Justina doesn’t fall into Dante’s arms with a happy sigh until the end of the book. I like that she doesn’t believe that marriage and babies automatically go together and that she’s obliged to marry him for some reason. I like Justina, as much as I could. I say that because her background is sketchy. She has the careless mother more interested in her lovers than her daughter, but her reactions are stock rather than believable. It’s nice that the heroine has commitment issues for a change, but I would have liked more depth to her character, such as how the years of fame have affected her. I don’t believe that in a few short years of being the girl sensation of the world that people fail to recognize her in the street, for instance. But Justina is miles better than Roxy.

What don’t I like?

The head-hopping. Sometimes as rapid as a tennis match, in some passages I have to glance back to see who’s talking, and that is confusing and disruptive to the flow of the book. Some people have that gift of transition, and while my personal preference is for one point of view per scene, because it enables a deeper understanding of the character and aids continuity, I can tolerate it, but here it is an irritant.

Judith by CaravaggioDante. Oh, what a disgusting person Dante is! Mind you, he was in bed with a woman after Justina had broken up with him, so I don’t entirely blame him, as Justina did. Maybe he should have left it a bit longer, but that excuse was pretty spurious. She changes her mind about the breakup, comes back to him, and he’s doing the busy. When he meets her at the wedding, he pursues her like a rabid dog after a fox, not like a man after a woman. He continues to objectify her through most of the book. She’s a sex kitten, she’s a mother, she’s anything except Justina. And since they had fallen in love years ago, there is no romance in this book. No falling in love. They have hot sex, they separate, they meet up and have more hot sex. The only love in the book is Justina and Dante for their baby. Dante is totally obnoxious, and I would have run a mile. I give them six months together, and then a few years after that for the sake of the baby.

During the wedding at the start of the story, he laughs at her when she gets angry with him. Then she goes back to her hotel with him and has sex? I don’t think so. Being hotter than hot just isn’t enough. She hasn’t “moved on” after Dante, so he is the only person she’s had sex with that we know of, although he’s had girlfriends. There is a huge double standard here, which is spelled out a couple of times. If she’d slept with anyone else, she’d be a slut. But he, as a manslut, is totally exonerated. No, just no. If I’d been Justina, I’d have slept with him just so I could stab him in his sleep, Judith and Holofernes style. She’d have rid the world of a pest. And unprotected sex with a manslut? Just no. Nobody with Justina’s background can be that stupid, surely.

When Justina first falls pregnant, she’s terrified that Dante will find out, but there is also mention that her pregnancy has come to the notice of the press. So how would he not know? He’s a gazillionaire and he’d have people presenting him with newspaper clippings every morning. He’d know. So he doesn’t find out until shortly before she gives birth? No. I can see how it would work for plot purposes, but either Justina needs to keep completely out of the public eye, or he needs to know sooner and then gets shipwrecked or something, so he can’t do anything about it. I’d have given him a car crash. Serve him right.

There’s a lot of writhing. I’m not too keen on writhing, it’s a bit snake-like and the mental image I get probably isn’t the one Kendrick is looking for. The sex is very purple, with people’s bodies acting independently of the person, to such an extent that I imagine them coming apart and working on each other as arms, legs, lips, etc. This doesn’t help the intimacy, it works against it for me, as body parts don’t have emotions, so the sex is described, but not felt.

There is one sentence I really, really hate. I’ll leave it with you.

“‘Because that’s what I felt I was supposed to say,’ she defended. ‘Because women who don’t want babies are seen as monsters.’”

LynneCs iconGrade: D


One sinful night…

Dante D’Arezzo is the last person famous songwriter Justina Perry wants to see at her best friend’s wedding. The wickedly sexy Italian is ruthless to the core. He broke her heart once; she won’t surrender to his insatiable desire again. But what Dante wants…

One very big scandal!

Justina’s pregnancy hits the front page and Dante knows he’s the father. He’ll make her pay for trying to keep his child from him. His Miss Independent is about to become completely dependent…on him!

This Italian will claim his heir and—if he wants her—a wife!

Read an excerpt.