Review: Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Format: ARC
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 272 pages
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source of my copy: Harlequin/MLM Media
Series: Fifth Avenue #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Austin, Hunter and Alex were inseparable during their school days, but the sudden death of their good friend Sarah Michaels tore them apart. However, her death was not as it seemed. Under the many falsehoods lies a corruption so sordid that New York’s elite would never believe it.
Hunter Talbot Grant III, sports figure du jour, wealthy beyond measure and disreputable by choice, has cultivated a reputation that masks the shadows of his past. When the opportunity to ensure financial destruction for Jason Treffen arises, he can't refuse. But first he must shake off the woman sent to tame him!
Zoe Brook, PR agent extraordinaire, never fails to transform a tarnished star. And Hunter's no different. Except there's a catch. Beneath their scorching mutual attraction, Zoe has a secret, she's also been on the wrong side of Jason Treffen, and she has as much of a taste for revenge as Hunter does!

Like I said in my review of Avenge Me (the first book), I really like the concept of the Fifth Avenue series: three friends come together to bring about the downfall of Jason Treffen, a wealthy, successful New York City lawyer and well-known women's advocate. But beneath his glittering public image lies a manipulative man who runs a prostitution ring by blackmailing young women under his employ and was responsible for the suicide of their friend Sarah Michaels. Each book will be written by a different author, which kind of adds a unique spin on the series, and I'm curious to see how the continuity of the books will work out.

Scandalize Me is about Hunter Talbot Grant III, who we learned in Avenge Me that was Sarah's college boyfriend until she broke up with him when she got too in deep with Jason Treffen. Hunter was angry with Sarah and he ignored her in her time of need. Ten years later, Hunter hasn't forgiven himself for his part in Sarah's death and punishes himself by cultivating a bad boy reputation that pushes everyone away.

Enter Zoe Brook, PR extraordinaire. She sought out Hunter with an offer to transform his damaged public image, and at the same time, use him in her own revenge against Jason Treffen. But as Zoe got to know Hunter more, she realized that there was more to him than the dumb jock image he shows the world. When Hunter finds out about Zoe's plans, he knew he had to convince her that they needed to work together.

I enjoyed Scandalize Me and I had less issues with it than Avenge Me. One of my issues with Avenge was the characters' motivation for revenge that did not come across as well as it should have had, and I couldn't quite connect with the characters. But in Scandalize, I did not have that problem. I liked Zoe and Hunter's characters from the start. I was able to empathize with them because I knew where they were coming from and why they made the choices they made.

Like in Avenge, the focus of the plot was heavily in the romance and how Zoe and Hunter's revolved. Sure, I would have liked more of the revenge part--you know, them executing on elaborate plans unbeknownst to Jason until he's squarely trapped and another piece of his empire falls away. Actually, that one confrontation scene with Jason, Zoe and Hunter felt rushed and anti-climatic. I wanted more drama from that scene, for Zoe and Hunter to do more and maybe a bit of blood, pain and fear on Jason's part. Hopefully, we'll see that and more in the final book.

The thing was, I didn't quite mind that most of the novel was about Zoe and Hunter's growth rather than the revenge. Both had a lot of issues to work through, especially Zoe who went through hell under Jason's thumb. I admired her character, that she was able to rise from that and build a successful PR firm. I really got into their romance and rooted for them to find their HEA both individually and together. I liked what Hunter did for Zoe towards the end of the novel, that he didn't push and let her come on her own.

I'm really looking forward to reading the last book of the series, Expose Me. All I gotta say is that we better see Jason Treffen get his comeuppance. It is long overdue.


What's really cool about the Fifth Avenue series promotion was that all the participants in the blog tour also get a Summer in the City Essentials Kit, which includes all of this awesome stuff.

I haven't had a chance to try all of the samples yet but I've been using Not Your Mother's Beat The Heat Thermal Shield Spray whenever I straighten my thick, frizzy hair and I've been loving it! It does a good job getting my hair straight faster and I like how it smells. I look forward to using the Nyx makeup--I've used other Nyx products before and I've been fairly impressed by it.

A big thank you to Harlequin, Meryl L. Moss Media Relations and all the sponsors for the kits.

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