I had the recent pleasure of seeing the musical Wicked, and though I enjoyed it, I complained about the ridiculously short development of Elphaba and Fiero’s romance. When I would do this, I would inevitably get a response of “OMG, have you read the book?”
“No,” I would say, thinking to myself: I don’t read fanfiction.
I feel as if I have broken my non-fanfiction rule with Scandal in the Wind – though I will admit I picked it up because of the title. I do love Gone With the Wind(but I have not read Scarlett, nor Rhett Butler’s People, because I don’t read fanfiction! Not that there’s anything wrong with that). If you are familiar with Gone With the Wind, you will recognize a few personalities. Imagine, if you will, that Scarlett — I mean, Lily — did not fall for Ashley, but Melanie! Er, that is, not Wyatt, but Mary! Now Rh–Beau wants a divorce. (I will say that I do enjoy the name Beauregard. Good planning on Ms. Grant’s part, that.) So Lily takes up with none other than Rose Ware, owner of Rose’s Delights, Charleston’s most beloved brothel. Rose becomes Lily’s friend, business partner, and lover, in that order.
I got a little more involved in this book past the halfway point, when the author began to take the plot more onto her own terms. There is this basic sort of structure that the reader has should she be familiar with Ms. Mitchell’s novel, but I have to say that the interactions between original characters Jo and Clinton were the most genuine to me. Perhaps when the characters are ‘new’ rather than ‘familiar’, there is a little more work involved on the author’s part to make them come alive. I think that is why their side-romance had that little bit of extra oomph to it. Don’t get me wrong – the relationship that blossoms between Lily and Rose is delightful and sexy, but I didn’t feel that as much craft was involved because the reader knows the character archetype. The climax(no pun intended) of the novel felt a little forced to me – the ending of Chapter 11 was a great cliffhanger, but that excitement fell short when the realization dawns that there really could be only one person to blame, and I didn’t fear for Lily’s life towards the end of the novel because, frankly, there were too few pages left for me to be concerned about an unhappy ending. And romance novels don’t have unhappy endings, anyway, and that is why we read them, is it not? Still, I think that should one decide to put one’s character in mortal peril, at least give us a bit more peril, a little more time to show some concern, maybe even a few more characters to suspect. And, my goodness – is there an editor at this publishing house? Sometimes the book needed commas, sometimes I found those commas roving around in sentences where they shouldn’t be, and I saw “you’re” in the place of “your” three times. I simply cannot say fiddle-dee-dee to grammar!
All that aside, I will say that Scandal in the Wind was a fun, quick, delightful read, and should Ms. Grant decide to give us an extended version one day so that she could take more time with the characters, I would be happy to break my unspoken rule to read it again.