Sunday, August 9, 2015

Heir to Scandal by Andrea Laurence

So boring . .  Zzzzzzzzzzzz

From the Publisher: 

"Yes, you have a son."
The past is about to catch up with Congressman Xander more ways than one. While his reelection campaign is in full swing, unidentified remains surface on his family's farm and scandal ensues. Yet when he returns home, it's his reunion with Rose Pierce that's consuming all his waking thoughts.

His high school sweetheart has blossomed into a radiant beauty. The thrill of first love that Xander had once dismissed is proving to be a more enduring proposition. But Rose has a secret, too--will it put a stop to their second chance and derail his career for good?

Woe betide you who buy Harlequins in Target’s Clearance Bin. I get what I deserve and I deserve this suffering. One of my favorite tropes is Secret Baby, which is when there is a child resulting from a pre-story hook-up which gets dragged out into a wrought piece of high angst. What can I say, I used to watch soaps with my mom sometimes. So when I came upon a $3 romance not only with this trope but from the Desire line, I had hopes for sexy good times. I had thought I’d get that with Heir to Scandal, the blurb on the back proudly announcing “Yes, you have a son.”
Unfortunately, I ended up with two pieces of emotionless driftwood and what was clearly the laundry list of a committee who wanted to “appeal to middle America.” The hero and heroine are boring, so terribly boring it took me a week to finish this book. I can read a Harlequin in a couple of hours, a week should be reserved for the works of George R.R. Martin. This book is one of a series about the Eden Boys, four boys who were adopted and raised on the Eden Christmas Tree Farm. The series is called Secrets of Eden because one of the boys killed another foster child in self-defense and then all of them covered it up. The body has now been found and they are trying to keep it under wraps. That might sound interesting, but it really isn’t. 
          Congressman Xander Langston is the perfect man and politician, a few years on the correct side of the constitutionally mandated Congressional age cut-off he is considered a wonder-boy. Aided by his good looks, “kind eyes and charming smile,” and the philanthropy he does for Fostering Families, the non-profit he works with for orphaned children because he himself is an orphan, he has taken DC by storm.
College dropout and single mother Rose Pierce was Xander’s high school sweetheart. She broke up with him to ensure that he took up his scholarship to Georgetown University and a week later finds out she is pregnant. She decides to raise their son, Joey, in secret, two towns over while taking care of her ailing mother. After her mother dies and times become even tougher for the Pierce family, her father acts as the, unknowing, driver in a bank robbery. This results in a 15 year sentence because one of his accomplices kills a guard, resulting in a felony murder charge.
See? Aren’t they kinda annoying already? I could get past the ludicrous backgrounds and convenient plot set-ups (I’m a romance reader aren’t I?) but I just could not get past how boring the two are! Everything Xander says is correct. While at the local Strawberry Festival the town gossip sees Xander with Joey and drops hints that she knows Xander is the father (there are some contrived reasons why they can’t tell anyone about it quite yet). Xander gets the idea to have everyone’s faces painted so that it is harder to see the familial resemblance. I found this scene really squicky. The key to Secret Baby is that the couple have to establish trust again, they have to come to terms raising a child and the father needs to acknowledge this child. I found it very distasteful that a man would go to such means to hide that he is the father of this child, but still try to court the mother. What is Rose’s reaction? “That was very smart” and “I’d forgotten how clever you always were.” Ugh, gross.
That brings us to the strawberry festival. That and an assortment of other scenes seemed as if they were pulled from a jar labeled “things people in the REAL America do.” Xander is a baseball star in high school, Joey is on the local little league team. Joey’s team is going to the baseball finals, Rose works in a diner and is a dynamite baker. Joey goes to Boy Scout Camp and on and on. Even the romance stuff was cliché. There is a makeover scene compliments of Xander’s Black Amex and some other stuff I didn’t care about. I just can’t believe how incredibly boring a Congressman with an illegitimate child was. That could have been crazy, but no, we had small town antics and a successful cover up.
I did really enjoy the Epilogue. The story actually picked up with *spoiler alert* Xander’s father being arrested for that murder that we all forget about and having a heart attack. But then it ended. Even a dramatic epilogue is not enough to keep me interested in this Christmas Tree Farm.

Overall Heir to Scandal 2 out of 5 terrible small town clichés.

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