SIX DEGREES OF SCANDAL - Caroline Linden
Scandalous Series - Book 4
Olivia Townsend has been widowed two years. Her father insisted she marry her deceased husband, Henry, for the money the groom's father was willing to give her father. His son needed a wife to control his excesses, and Henry was willing to overlook the fact she wasn't virginal. It was never a love match, and he died leaving her destitute. She received a diary of Henry's from a solicitor, and has traveled to Gravesend, Kent, to see if Henry left any other papers. The solicitor said Henry insisted no one have his papers and they have been burned. She knows he is lying and won't give back the diary he insists was sent by mistake. She leaves, and as she walks back to the cottage she is renting, hears footsteps behind her. She fears it is Henry's friend, Lord Clary. He has been too assiduous in his demand for Olivia to become his mistress. Ducking into a hedge, she finds the perfect weapon, a shovel, and swings at the person following her. Unfortunately, it isn't Clary, but the one man she has loved since she first laid eyes on him in church as a young girl: Jamie Weston. He is the man who took her virginity and told her he wanted to marry her, and then left without a word.
James (Jamie) Weston has come to Greavesend searching for Olivia. His sister Penelope told him of Olivia's peril and the scoundrel Clary's role. He feels he has once again failed to protect her. During the last ten years his sisters have remained very close friends with Olivia, but it has been very difficult for him. Since Clary shoved Penelope off his yacht because she wouldn't tell him where Olivia was, Jamie has an even stronger reason to protect Olivia and thwart Clary. Jamie has been investigating Henry Townsend's dubious business, and Clary is deeply involved in that morass. He decides to help Olivia delve into Henry's past to find what they need to trap Clary.
Her loveless marriage destroyed Olivia's relationship with her family. She lost Jamie and lost trust when Henry died leaving her penniless. The search for what Clary wants is a long and convoluted journey which includes dishonest solicitors, smugglers, and unscrupulous landlords. Jamie's and Olivia's attraction has never diminished, so it remains hot, and they fall into many scandalous situations. (I didn't count how many, but at least six, which has nothing to do with the other scandals going on!) The depths of corruption her husband fell into distresses Olivia, and Jamie must also confess something quite shocking in his life. The many situations they must face will challenge both of them, but they at least have his family and friends to help support them.