SIX DEGREES OF SCANDAL
Released March 29th, 2016
Olivia Townsend is in trouble and out of options. Pursued by a desperate man in search of a lost treasure, which she doesn’t have, she’s got only two things in her favor: her late husband’s diary, which she was never meant to see… and the man who was her first-and only-love. Losing him broke her heart, though she’s been careful to hide it for the last ten years. But when he comes to her aid and vows to stand by her this time, no matter what, she can’t help but hope things will be different this time.
James Weston has blamed himself for letting Olivia down when she needed him years ago, and he will not do it again. Fortunately, his unusual life has equipped him well to outsmart the villain chasing Olivia. Unfortunately, being so near her again threatens to expose every secret in his heart…even those that should stay hidden forever.
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James pulled off his boots, and then his stockings, and then—to Olivia’s shock—he climbed up and stood on the highest rock, letting the water foam over his feet and wet his breeches. “Don’t you want to climb up?”
She looked longingly at the rocks. The thought of water running over her feet and ankles was tempting, but not worth it. “I’d get wet, and my mother would be displeased.”
“Pity that. It’s great fun.”
Slowly she looked down at her shoes and stockings. Maybe if she held up her skirts, very high . . . But that would also be improper. “I’d better not.”
“Oh,” he said in disappointment. “You’re a coward.”
Olivia’s eyes widened. “How rude!”
He shrugged, kicking at the water and sending a spray over the grass. “I can tell you want to get up here but you won’t.”
“I’d get all wet . . .”
“So walk around until your feet and skirt dry. That’s what my sisters do.”
Olivia stole another look at the frothing stream. “Your sisters climb up there?”
“And they’re even younger than you. But if you’re too scared . . .” He started to climb down.
Her mouth firmed. She was not scared. “Those rocks are slippery. I don’t want to fall.”
He grinned as if he knew he’d won. “I’ll hold your hand.”
And he did. Olivia peeled off her stockings and slippers, folded up her skirts as high as she dared—all the way above her knees—and carefully stepped into the water. She gasped at the cold initially, but it was a hot day and soon the water felt blissful. James held her hand as promised and coaxed her to stand on the topmost rock at the edge of the waterfall. She balanced on the wide flat stone and a grin spread across her face. The water rushed over her toes and ankles and she thought she’d never done anything this daring in her whole life. “How did I never discover this?”
Still holding her hand, James laughed. “Good girls stay at home.”
“So I’m a bad girl for coming out here?”
“No,” he said. “A curious girl. I like that kind.”
That allayed Olivia’s moment of worry. Curious didn’t sound so terrible. She exchanged a tentative smile with James.
When their feet had gone numb, he helped her climb down and back onto the grass.
“Do you play dolls still?” he asked as he put his boots back on.
Olivia shook out her skirts, relieved to see that she had kept dry except for a small spot on one side. “Sometimes.”
“Good. Follow me.” He started off.
He turned at her indignant cry. “Call me Jamie. James if you must. You might as well come meet my sisters, who drove me from the house today with begging me to play dolls. My mother said I had to entertain them but they don’t like the way I play dolls.” He made an aggrieved expression. “Why can’t a doll put on a fine dress and then have a sword fight with another doll? What else have dolls got to do all day?” He shrugged. “You probably know better how to do it the way they want.”
“I can’t go into town without permission,” Olivia finally said. Privately she was curious to meet the Westons. Her parents didn’t view most of the local families as their equal, and Olivia and Daphne weren’t allowed much contact with other children. And even though she didn’t spend as much time with dolls as Daphne did, she wasn’t immune to wanting to see the Weston girls’ dolls, which were sure to be much finer than anything at Kellan Hall. But if Mother saw her, she’d be in such trouble.
He grinned as if sensing another victory. “We don’t live in town anymore. We took possession of Haverstock House this week, right over the hill.”
Her eyes popped open. Haverstock House was the finest house in the county, and lay between Kellan Hall and town. It belonged to the elderly Earl of Malke, who rarely visited since his wife’s death. Now the Westons owned it?
“I expect my mother will call on your mother soon, now we’re neighbors,” he went on. “Will she let you come visit then?”
Olivia doubted it. “Perhaps.”
Jamie Weston flashed his confident grin once more. “I’ll wager a copper penny she will.”
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Six Degrees of Scandal is a fantastic second chance at love novel. Caroline Linden deliverers an engaging story filled with well-crafted characters, passion and mystery. There are several ongoing storylines —Olivia and Jamie’s romance, the secrets concerning Olivia’s late husband and the mysterious Lady Constance—which the author masterfully weaves together throughout the novel. The element of suspense in the main storyline kept me reading past my bedtime.
Olivia Townsend is being followed on her walk home from her late husband’s solicitor’s office. Thinking that she is being tracked by Lord Clary, one of her husband’s most undesirable friends, Olivia hits the person with a shovel. She is shocked to discover that she has injured her childhood sweetheart, Jamie Weston. While Jamie and Olivia are getting reacquainted, Olivia learns that Lord Clary tossed Penelope, Jamie’s sister, into the Thames River! Jamie explains that his sister has sent him to find Olivia.
Jamie and Olivia join forces to solve the mystery of her late husband’s financial schemes and to uncover why Lord Clary is so interested in pursuing Olivia. Loved the adventure and suspense as Jamie and Olivia travelled toward the Isle of Thanet in their pursuit of clues to solve the mystery—they were one step ahead of Lord Clary. I adored the charming secondary character of Mr. Pike and the scenes where he flirted with Olivia!
Caroline Linden descriptive writing style lends itself to romantic suspense. There are several novels and novellas in this series and the author is able to carry through several important plot lines through all of the stories without error. She is able to blend romance with suspense and engages the reader from the first few paragraphs of the story. Jamie and Olivia’s passionate romance intensifies as the couple uncovered a major clue in Olivia’s husband’s business dealings. The conclusion of the novel is perfect for the couple and I will admit that the author caught me by surprise when the identity of Lady Constance was revealed!
Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Edited by Jennifer McGee