You know those tabloid gossip articles, with alliterative headlines and salacious stories? Tina Bender is one of the women behind them. The gossip columnist for a Los Angeles tabloid, she has a list of connections around town a mile long to dig up the dirt on all of the celebrities. However, someone doesn’t like what she’s writing – and starts sending death threats. In a move belying the financial state of print newspapers, her manager hires her a bodyguard, Cal Dean, to protect her. Tina doesn’t want a bodyguard, and she doesn’t want to go to the police and scare off her sources – she just wants to find out who’s going after her. However, the stakes rise when the threats escalate from threatening phone calls to murder.
Meanwhile, Tina is dealing with her senile aunt/roommate, a new Barbie-esque co-worker, an intense Internet flirtation with someone known only as ManInBlack72, and a growing attraction to her bodyguard.
Scandal Sheet is a funny, modern story that straddles the line between romance and chick lit. It takes an affectionately satirical look at today’s celebrity culture, which is sometimes subtle and sometimes not (Pippi Mississippi, anyone?). Though this may date the book in a few years, at the moment it’s incredibly fresh (however, side note: my opinion of Tina and ManInBlack72 dropped when I found out they met through Myspace. Not cool, not even close.)
Tina got on my nerves occasionally, but the author gave her enough nakedly heartfelt moments to reassure me that she isn’t as emotionless as she sometimes appears. Tina is sarcastic, ruthless, and sometimes does really stupid things – but as a whole, you can’t deny her devotion to her loved ones and quick intelligence.
Cal was a bit more of an elusive character. As the book is narrated in the first person, we don’t see too much of his POV. This is frustrating at times, when all I want to know is what he’s thinking, but overall first-person narration was the right choice for this book. I just wanted to be shown a bit more of what was going on in Cal’s head (and heart), even if we didn’t visit there.
The book wasn’t perfect, and some parts made me roll my eyes. But for the most part, I enjoyed it. Scandal Sheet is fresh, funny, and has just enough heart to balance the snark.