A Touch of Scandal
Though A Touch of Scandal is only the second in Jennifer Haymore’s historical series, it is, most definitely, not a stand-alone book.
The reason? I always felt as if I were a step – or even two – behind the proverbial eight ball due to the complicated plot carried over from the preceding book and the author’s style of doling out of the information the reader needs piece by painful piece over several hundred pages. Honestly, I think an info dump would have worked better for me because, once I had all the pieces in place, the second half of the book was far more enjoyable than the first.
Pure and good heroine Kate works as a companion to the recently married Lady Rebecca. Though Rebecca doesn’t know it (and the reader doesn’t know the reasons until far later) Kate is, in fact, the sister of her husband. For several days Kate has been watching a mysterious, handsome man bathing in a nearby pool and, on one of her secretive forays to watch him, he catches her. The two share a flirtatious conversation and a kiss.
Turns out Kate’s obsession is Garrett, Duke of Calton, brother of Rebecca and a man on a mission to wreak vengeance on Kate’s brother. Why? It’s really too complicated to go into and, honestly, I didn’t figure it all out until much later, but suffice it to say that Garrett doesn’t like Kate’s brother. Said brother likes Garrett even less – so much so that as soon as he discovers that he’s in the neighborhood, he takes him prisoner and holds him in the basement of Kate’s home.
On the positive side, once Garrett learns of the relationship between Kate and his enemy, he thinks Kate betrayed him to her brother for a refreshingly short time. So, with a Big Mis thankfully avoided, Kate becomes convinced that her brother is in the wrong and aids Garrett in escaping his clutches. Since she also burns her bridges at home with her uncaring mother, Kate and her invalid brother follow along.
If you read the previous book in this series, I have no doubt that your brow won’t be as furrowed as mine was as I tried to follow events in this book. Complicated relationships and plot developments are involved and the author simply doesn’t do a good job of explaining who is who and what is what. Even in the small details, quite honestly, this is a problem. For example, Kate is treated to a spot of insolence on page five from a man named John, but we don’t learn until pages and pages later that John is a fellow servant in the household. Until that information was supplied, I was distracted by wondering just who the hell he was. A disreputable son of the household? A friend of the owner? Hey, I don’t know about other readers, but when I’m sweating the small stuff – let along the big – I simply can’t get lost in the reading experience. The book doesn’t, in a word, flow.
Kate remains a cipher for the pure, innocent, and just generally too good to be true heroine. Garrett fares better, but his primary character development seemed to have happened in the previous book and the author doesn’t do much in the way of supplying any Cliff Notes. Which is too bad because I think I might have liked him.
With all that said, once the intricacies of the plot take a back seat to the romance of Garrett and Kate in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the story more. But if I hadn’t been reading this book for review, the truth is that I never would have gotten that far.
My problems with this book were style problems. I think that the author has an interesting perspective and point of view and the book never felt like wallpaper, so I’d certainly be willing to try her again. I’ll just make certain to start with the first book in a series.