Review: The Face of Scandal

The Face of Scandal (Surface Tension #3)The Face of Scandal by Helena Maeve

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

  The Romance Review

Third in this series, THE FACE OF SCANDAL is not a standalone. Full disclosure, this book was read without reading the first two which most likely impacts the review. Ms. Maeve first caught my attention with her book, Glass Houses. Ms. Maeve is different because she creates characters who are loathsome and yet a reader is still hooked into the story because of the plot. In this story, I didn't like any of the characters, main or secondary. This impacts my enjoyment greatly. I'm rounding it up here to a three, even though I didn't enjoy this story.

Hazel is a triad with Dylan and Ward. This is a newly formed threesome still on shaky grounds. Dylan and Ward are in a bit of denial about their relationship outside of Hazel and it never gets fully addressed. Sex is used to smooth over all arguments and misunderstandings. Hazel is a woman who is difficult for me to like. It's because she's so damaged. Her brand of damage deals involves insecurity and too much inner dialogue for the reader to slosh through. Her lack of maturity doesn't move me; it makes me think less of her. She keeps second guessing herself, thinking her old girlfriends are playing mind games with her. This is true to some extent and I'd say she fits the accusation with her own brand of half-truths. Ms. Maeve does a great job of creating a flawed character with little redeeming qualities. Frankly, I'm not sure why two successful men would want anything to do with her. This is until the reader catches very tiny glimpses of their BDSM kink.

The scant BDSM scenes in this book are the only thing worth reading for me. I could do without the Hazel and Sadie drama. Sadie was an extremely annoying secondary character that I wanted to kill off within the first few chapters of the book. At the end of the book, I'm apathetic towards Sadie because it would take too much effort to care. She's worthless. I digress.

The BDSM in here is of two types. There is the hot kinky consensual type with Hazel dropping into subspace. Then there are the references and allusions to her abusive experience with her ex-boyfriend from ten years ago in college. All I can say is that two out of control people make BDSM a train wreck. It is clear that Hazel has no control over herself just as Malcolm is a stalker with a lack of self-control. I hesitate to blame the victim here, but it really does take two to tango. Hazel and Malcolm's unhealthy relationship fed a vicious cycle and instead of terminating it cleanly, the unresolved entanglement dragged out over a decade.

This plot device is what intrigues me about Ms. Maeve. The situation is so messed up and yet, I can't really feel outraged at Malcolm. I understand his point of view and I feel sorry for him. I wish he'd just get over it and move on. To be obsessed with a person's "first" is something I've witnessed and can't understand. Perhaps this is why when I read a story where people are hung up on their firsts and do crazy things because of it, I'm riveted. I still go back to not understanding what's so attractive or great about Hazel other than the fact that she is a good submissive fuck. At the end of this story, I hold no positive feelings for Hazel. I just think of her as an object to be used and abused.

This drama ridden story is for those who enjoy messy entanglements resulting in unhealthy decisions.

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