Last month I read Dome’Loki’s review of Scandalized and immediately requested it from my library, which meant I joined a several week long queue. As promised in the review, this story pulls you in immediately. When it finally got to me it took me less than 36 hours to read it (I almost finished it in less than 12, but at 75% I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and I was required to go to work on Monday – nonsense I tell you). I’m sorely tempted to pick it back up and read it again immediately, which is not something I usually do.
I’m not sure I’m going to be able to capture the magic that Ivy Owens (penname of Lauren Billings, of the co-author pair Christina Lauren) manages in her 300 pages. In the author note she talks about how this story began as what she wrote for herself in the early days of the pandemic. Scandalized is high everything. High heat, high drama… this book just goes from minute one and doesn’t stop. And… I’m not convinced it should work as well as it does, but holy hell does this work. Owens dumps us in first person present tense with Gigi and we are off to the races.
We encounter Gigi exhausted, on deadline with an investigative journalism piece that could make or break her career and waiting for her much-delayed flight when it is finally cancelled. Trapped on a layover in Seattle on her way back to LA from London her only option is to get a hotel room, unfortunately they are hard to come by. But then the familiar face she’s been tracking since the airport turns out to be the older brother of her childhood friend and he offers help. Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason, he seems so familiar to her. Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.
Late last year when I read In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren I mentioned that I felt bit of a distance from the story, and mentioned that it was something I had come up against in some of their other outings. It did not happen at all in this solo effort – I was deeply in and invested throughout. This story has built in time constraints – the article deadline, that Alec is only in town for two weeks – and that helps keep the reader in the story, but so did the first-person perspective. Gigi’s mind is a fascinating place, so it was easy to stay engaged with her as she and Alec fell deeper into their relationship.
Do suggest, most heartily.
Content Warning: Georgia is investigating sexual assaults at a night club. No assaults happen on page, but they are briefly described.
Bingo Square: Scandal (it’s right there in the title and the scandal Gigi is investigating/reporting is central to the narrative.)