Once Upon A Romance

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Scandal Sheet by Gemma Halliday


Cover art: Scandal Sheet Reviewer: Connie Payne
Title: Scandal Sheet - 1st in the Hollywood Headlines Mystery Romance series
Author: Gemma Halliday
Publisher: Making It (Dorchester)
ISBN-13: 978-0-505-52805-6
Release Date: November 2009
Genre/Sub-genre: Mystery Romance
Year/Setting: Present day, Los Angeles CA
Overall Rating: 4.25
Sexual Content Rating: None (insinuation, wishful thinking)
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild/Moderate
Violent Content Rating: Moderate
Gemma's Website: www.gemmahalliday.com

She’s a gossip columnist for the L.A. Informer. She has sources throughout L.A. that feed her tidbits of info, scandalous morsels of gossip. She digs up the dirt on the Who’s Who of Hollywood’s celebs. Perhaps too much dirt. Tina Bender has ticked someone off. Badly enough to have received a threat…

She scoffs when the editor, Felix Dunn (last seen in the Spying in High Heels series), hires a bodyguard for her; big tough Calvin Dean. He’s kind of hot in a macho way, but she definitely doesn’t need him. It was only a death threat via voicemail. She can figure out who is threatening her all by herself without some big muscle-y bodyguard dogging her every step.

It’s not as easy as that, however. The threats increase as Tina and Cal narrow down her suspect list. A woman is murdered. Things become quite dangerous for Tina and her little old well-meaning Aunt Sue. She seems to be going in circles with her off the wall subterfuge and sleuthing. There are questions without a whole lot of answers. Things she’s learning are quite revealing and at the very least juicy, but do they connect to her threats?

Tina’s practically meeting herself coming and going as she works on her column and tries to unmask the threat-making celeb. ManInBlack (her cyber friend) helps to keep her sane, however. She can "talk" to him. He’s safe, she can trust him. But as things get crazier she drifts away from Black. Her feelings for Cal are at once clear and confusing, they seem to war with the ambivalent feelings she’s had simmering for Black. Perhaps she can figure that mystery out as soon as she puts all the various pieces of this more immediate mystery together where they belong. Should she live so long.

I have to be honest here, reader to reader. We really shouldn’t like Tina. She’ll admit she’s a liar, but she’s also sarcastic, mouthy, surly, and pushy. Not my typical preferences for a character’s personality traits. But somehow Ms. Halliday made it work, she spun her magic…given all of that I came to like Tina Bender. Paper thin layers of Tina’s inner self were subtlety pulled back, though not revealed completely. Not yet.

The surrounding cast’s personalities are slightly muted to let the spotlight remain on Tina, however, they are each colorful and entertaining and integral in their own ways making for a great ensemble. It will be interesting to get to know them better.

I was honestly prepared to continue to moan and groan at the loss of Maddie and her pals and was quite skeptical about the debut of this author’s newest series. For all of you who understand what I mean you should now be at ease. This is the beginning of an edgy, intriguing, and utterly entertaining series.

Oh, before I forget…Big ginormous Hoorays to Ms. Halliday for her brilliance at weaving in an adored character (who I just love) from the Spying in High Heels series as well as vaguely tying in others. Very nice. Very well done.


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