A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore 501
A Touch of Scandal starts off four months after the end of A Hint of Wicked with Garrett James, the Duke of Calton, desperately chasing down William Frisk, the man who kept him ignorant and servile in Belgium for eight years before convincing society he was mad and eloping with his sister, Rebecca. Kate Frisk is working as a servant in her brother William's house, but she has to pretend to Lady Rebecca, that she is no relation to the master of the house. She treks home from the manor every night to take care of her sickly brother, Reggie, who is the illegitimate son of the deceased Lord Debussey. On the way home she likes to stop by a small pond, and recently she discovered that a very handsome god has taken to swimming in the river. Upon introduction neither reveals their relationship to William Frisk and the spark and connection they feel for each other instantly bonds them. It really is only a short amount of time before Kate impetuously decides that, although she knows nothing can ever come of the relationships, she wants to truly be with Garrett.
It is not until afterwards, when he is secure in the knowledge that he has met a great woman does Garrett discover who Kate is, but by then it is too late and William has found the two of them. Despite the lies that he strings about Garrett, Kate can't help but feel as though her brother, whom she has always trusted completely, is lieing and she knows she wants to help Garrett. But Kate's mom is always in the back ground, reminding Kate that William is the only good thing left in the world and that it is Kate and Reggie who are the useless ones. Even if she saves Garrett it may be too late for them as a woman from Garrett's past arrives, claiming that the child she carries is his. Will Garrett take duty and honor or the woman he believes is the love of his life? It is up to Kate to prove that this woman is not the innocent she claims to be and safe him from a life of misery. However, even if he escapes that fate she knows that the difference in their station would prevent a match and this time it is Garrett's turn to save Kate from her own fears and insecurities to create a happy life with him.
This book had a LOT to live up to as I absolutely loved her previous book and gave it a very high 5 hearts. One thing I noticed quickly was that Haymore still has not completely developed a relationship from start to finished to my satisfaction as Sophie and Tristan were already very well acquainted before the start of Wicked. She makes it clear that from the beginning of their meeting Garrett and Kate are incredibly drawn to each other and have quite the connection. They both know they can trust each other with everything, despite the tragedies in their past, but there really wasn't any rhyme or reason beyond this. It almost fell more into the love at first sight category than a romance where two adults develop feelings for each other as they learn about each other and notice eachother's admirable qualities. Granted by the end I was so rooting for these two to be together and finally bring these two people, who had been so hurt and had so little love in their lives, the happiness they could give to each other.
I loved Kate as a character and all the emotions and craziness she went through over the course of the book and how well she handled it. She fell in love, had to deal with the fact that her brother was a horrible lieing monster, and risk losing the man she had fallen in love with because of society. Throughout it all she held her up, adapted well to her new situations, and did her best to take care of her little brother. She wasn't "good" or drop dead gorgeous, she had an inner light that Garrett could not resist, and while I'm normally not a fan of the beautiful smile that makes the drab woman gorgeous, Haymore does a fairly good job with it. Garrett is great as the semi-brooding hero who is still trying to get his life back on track and doesn't know quite how best to accomplish this. The sex was nowhere near as steamy as I expected, and there is not enough of it in my opinion, but it was definitely a beautiful expression of their love for each other. I would have liked to have seen more time spent between Kate and Garrett, just the two of them.
Rating: The book was fairly good, but with two side-plots coming between them I kind of felt there was not enough focus on the romance. Still, two great characters and great writing.