****SPOILER AHEAD**** for those of you who have not read A Hint of Wicked. Garrett has recovered from the gunshot wound inflicted by William Fisk--the man who stole eight years of his life, his young sister, his money and nearly killed his wife--he has tracked him to Kenilworth with the intention of killing Fisk. Garrett and Sophie are now divorced and she has re-married Garrett's cousin.****END SPOILER****
Now we get Garrett's side of the story. Apart from the events in the previous book the back blurb provides an accurate accounting of Garrett and Kate's conflict in the story. Garrett has been dead inside for the last eight years, but when he is with Kate he realizes that he is still a man, and still alive. I liked that Kate brought this man back to life, and I liked learning that he was human because I admit I wasn't too fond of Garrett in the first book. I also liked that while he did have some doubts about Kate after he found out she was William Fisk's sister, he didn't let it rule his life or his actions. Those doubts were quickly dispelled for him and he trusted her, even after Fisk captures him and claims collusion with Kate.
I liked that Kate trusted Garrett implicitly and never believed her brother's lies about Garrett. She might have believed her brother over Garrett if she hadn't recently found out from her sister-in-law Rebecca that William was treating her abominably, or if she hadn't had to keep her relationship to William a secret from Rebecca. Granted, she did have a few doubts, how could she not, but, like Garrett her intuition tells her not to believe William.
A Touch of Scandal is longer than the average romance book and almost the entire first half of the book is devoted to Kate and Garrett meeting, getting to know one another, and falling in love. Ms. Haymore managed to make me forget that there was a sinister side to the story. When William Fisk finally does make an appearance, it isn't dragged out, and before the halfway point of the book Garrett finally gets his revenge with a lot of help from both Kate and his sister Rebecca.
It was quite different having the murder/mystery part of the story solved in the first half of the book, and it took me a bit to wrap my head around it as I am just not used to that. Then I realized that now we can really focus on Garrett's and Kate's insecurities and growing feelings for each other. When Kate finally learns that Garrett is a Duke she convinces herself that they can never be together because she is a servant. Since Mrs. Fisk tried to kill Kate after learning that her favorite child was dead, Kate has no choice but to go home with Garrett and Rebecca, but being that close to Garrett is pure torture for her. Garrett has his share of torturous feelings as well being in that close of proximity to Kate without loving her.
I was really enjoying this part of the story and I couldn't wait for Kate and Garrett to admit their feelings for one another. Silly, silly me. I so should have known better, after all, I had read Ms. Haymore's first book. ****SPOILER ****Almost two-thirds of the way into the book, the author brings in Garrett's Belgian mistress who is extremely pregnant, and who conveniently is also Fisk's mistress! Naturally Kate's insecurities come rushing to the forefront and she leaves. ****END SPOILER**** It was at this point that my enjoyment in the story took a dive and I wanted to throw the book off the train. I mean, seriously, how much hell does Garrett have to go through before he finally gets his HEA? He obviously wasn't beaten down enough in the first book, so let's just pile on every romance trope we can think of to stretch the book out. I am so over authors using contrived conflict to stretch out a book.
Up next for Jennifer Haymore is Rebecca's book and I am definitely giving that one a pass. Rebecca has already been through enough hell with her marriage to William Fisk, I have no desire to see what other misery Jennifer Haymore will heap upon her. A Touch of Scandal had its good moments, especially in the first half of the book, but for me though, the good didn't outweigh the bad and I wish I had passed on it altogether.