When I first got my Kindle Fire for Christmas, I spent a lot of time looking around for interesting free books to download. One that I came across early on was Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday, which I enjoyed and which led to my buying most of the rest of the series (until the main character marries THE WRONG MAN, i.e., not the one I would have chosen for her, at which point I put down the book in disgust and refused to go any further. But I digress.) At the time, the first book in Halliday’s Hollywood Headlines trilogy was also free, so I downloaded that one as well.
Fast-forward several months, and I’ve just gotten around to reading Hollywood Scandals. Now, I don’t think it’s free any longer–Amazon is currently pricing it at $4.99–but I still consider it as going towards my Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge since it was free to me. And who knows, maybe Halliday or her publisher will consider putting it back as free. I consider this to be a pretty good marketing technique, especially for a series, as it certainly worked on me!
Anyway, back to the review. If you’ve read any of Halliday’s other books, you’ll know that she tends to set her stories in Los Angeles, that they lean in the chick lit romance direction but are also mysteries, and that she includes lots of quirky characters. Hollywood Scandals is no exception. The trilogy picks up on the character of Felix (from the High Heels mysteries), a reporter and, by the start of this book, editor of a Hollywood tabloid newspaper, The Informer. While Felix is in the books, though, he isn’t the focus. The main characters are women who work at the tabloid, and in the first book our heroine is Tina Bender, gossip columnist.
Tina Bender isn’t your typical Hollywood bimbo. She has purple hair, drives a pink motorcycle, and lives with her elderly Aunt Sue in a retirement community. Needless to say, her personal life isn’t quite as exciting as the image she projects, and she spends her evenings chatting online with the mysterious “Man in Black”. But she pulls no punches in her writing, providing the daily, juicy scoop on celebrities thanks to tips from her extensive network of local informants.
One day, however, Tina goes too far and begins getting anonymous, threatening messages from someone she wrote about in her column. The threats escalate until Felix fears for her safety and hires a bodyguard, Cal, to protect Tina. Not one to sit back and leave her life in the hands of other people, Tina decides to fight back by tracking down and uncovering her stalker. She and Cal makes the rounds of Hollywood to determine who exactly has a grudge against Tina and put a stop to them.
I liked this book, mainly because Tina was an interesting heroine, but also because it was a fun, romantic mystery. The mystery wasn’t exactly of the “whodunnit” variety; there weren’t any obvious clues to follow in order to figure out the identity of the stalker. I liked the secondary characters, in particular Tina’s elderly relatives, who she obviously cares about very much and who soften the tough girl image she projects. The character of Cal was likeable enough but not especially deep–I didn’t get a strong sense of who he was, other than someone who was a potential romantic match for Tina. A lot of the Hollywood setting was familiar to me from having read the High Heels series, particularly Sunset Studios, which I think I’ve seen her describe at least two or three times.
I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something light and entertaining, with a satisfying romantic storyline.
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