Sunday 8 October 2023
CBR15 Book 48: "Scandalized" by Ivy Owens
Rating: 4 stars
Still reviewing books I read in July. It's really quite sad that I haven't been able to get my act together more. Let's see what I actually remember of this book.
Georgia "Gigi" Ross has been in London trying to investigate a sordid news story involving powerful nightclub owners and probable sexual assault and is pretty much exhausted when she's on her way home to the US. Once her flight gets cancelled, she feels close to a breakdown, especially after discovering that there are no free hotel rooms for miles. She finds an unlikely rescuer in Alec Kim, the older brother of her best friend from childhood (who moved away years ago, and they haven't been in touch for ages). He has access to a suite and offers her a room and a chance to shower and freshen up. Gigi is deeply grateful, yet also pleased to discover that the teen she once had a crush on has become a very handsome, charming, and friendly adult.
While Alec might not have noticed Gigi much while she was running around with his sister as a tween, the attraction between them now is undeniable. Once it becomes clear that Alec absolutely isn't expecting anything untoward in return for letting Gigi share his hotel room, they go to the bar to share a drink and hours of reconnecting then lead to them acting on the attraction, spending a night of passion together. Gigi isn't really expecting to see Alec again and also feels quite betrayed once she gets home to the small flat she shares with her friend, and discovers while he seemed familiar as more than someone she once used to know. Alec is the wildly popular star of a huge BBC soap and in America to promote it along with the rest of the cast. He didn't want Gigi to know the truth about his fame during their night together, knowing that so many women are attracted to him for his celebrity status. He wanted Gigi to see him as himself.
Because their shared night together pretty much knocked each of their worlds, Gigi forgives Alec and agrees to keep meeting him in secret while he's in America. Their relationship is further complicated when it becomes clear that someone close to Alec could be a material witness in the sex abuse scandal that Gigi is trying to uncover, and it isn't exactly ethical for Gigi to be sleeping with a source.
Ivy Owens is the pen name of Lauren Billings, one half of romance writing duo extraordinaire Christina Lauren. She wrote this book during the pandemic, which is an excellent use of her time. While Christina Lauren used to write and publish really steamy romances, their current output is a lot more fade to black, so it was nice to see that this book actually had some excellent smexy times. I also really liked the supporting cast, especially Gigi's soap and celebrity-obsessed roommate.
While this book isn't going on my instant classics shelf, it was an entertaining read and I will absolutely be looking out for more books from Ivy Owens in the future.
Judging a book by its cover: It's rare that I would prefer an animated cartoony cover to one with actual people on it, but I much prefer the UK cover that's on the book I own to the American cover, which has a kissing couple with fireworks in the background. This one is much more elegant.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.