Six Degrees of Scandal by Caroline Linden
Book Four of the Scandalous series
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Caroline Linden has never disappointed me! This Scandalous series is easily one of my favorite historical romance series of all time. I don't think I've rated a single one of the books (novel or novella) less than four stars. Generally I enjoy historical romance novels - I'm pretty easy to please, when it comes to this genre - but I LOVE Linden's books especially!
This is James and Olivia's story. Ten years ago, a twenty-year-old James promised a seventeen-year-old Olivia that would get married. But Olivia's family was under dire circumstances, and despite James' family being extremely rich, Olivia's father needed Olivia to be married as soon as possible. So Olivia was forced to marry Henry Townsend. Ten years later, Henry's been dead for two years. But with his death came strange happenings; a viscount Clary has been hounding Olivia, claiming that she has something valuable that Henry left behind. Olivia has been hiding from Clary, but James finds her. Determined to help Olivia and hunt down Clary, James abandons everything and he and Olivia begin the search for the treasure. But the pair discover that Henry's dealings were a lot shadier and dangerous than they thought.
I'm pretty sure this is the last novel in the series, and this makes me immensely sad! However, if it is the last novel, then I must say, the series ended on a beautiful note. I love second-chance romances! Usually I don't like romances with a female widow and male rake, but the backstory was so well-written, and the circumstances were terrible but not heartbreaking.
Olivia never wanted to marry Henry, and even while married to him, neither he nor she wanted to be married. When he died of sudden health causes, Olivia is left penniless, and Lord Clary starts to hunt her for whatever Henry left behind. But James has great timing, and starts to help Olivia. I like that Olivia accepts help from him, as well as stands on her own two feet. It's admirable to defend yourself and fight for yourself, but I think it's equally admirable to accept help when you need it.
I like Olivia so much! I thought I would dislike her a tiny bit, after reading Part One of this book (the background, what transpired between Jamie and Olivia before she was forced to marry Henry). Olivia blamed Jamie for not being there to prevent her marriage to Henry, and Jamie and Olivia part ways on a very sad note. So I thought I wouldn't like Olivia. But it was hard not to like her and respect her. She is strong and determined, but not willful and overbearing. And she is so full of forgiveness and love - I was so happy to see a female protagonist that wasn't stubborn in her ways; Olivia was very open to loving the man she once loved.
And Jamie! Ah, how I loved him. He never stopped loving Olivia, and regretted leaving her that day. He had wanted to make his own fortune so that he could marry her, but his absence made it possible for Olivia's father to find someone else to marry Olivia and provide money for the Herbert family. Poor Jamie! He's suffered terribly for ten years, and cannot forgive himself. Yet he is more than willing to leave everything behind and help Olivia search for the missing treasure that her late husband has hidden. Jamie is honestly such a sweetheart, not at all a rake or scoundrel (like many historical romance heroes are). While I LOVE the rakes and scoundrels, I also adore the wicked sweethearts, like Jamie.
The romance is so sweet, and not drama-filled! About 55% of the book is spent with no physical interaction - Olivia doesn't want to overstep, and Jamie doesn't want to overstep. Both of them are cautious and they don't know where the other stands. I love that it is Olivia that pushes Jamie, and that they stand steadfast once they realize that they're both still so in love with each other. There are no betrayals or big twisted secrets that keep them apart, just them learning to trust and love each other after ten years of bitterness and sadness between them.
And while the romance is sweet, there are some REALLY steamy scenes in the book. Only a few, but tastefully done. Linden always has a good balance of steamy yet not too much steamy.
This book is entertaining, exciting, and heart-warming! I was never bored, and despite it being your usual historical romance length, I breezed through this book. Linden's stories always captivate me, and this one is not exception. We learn something VERY important in this book! And That Reveal is one of the reasons why I think this is the final book in the series. But the epilogue... I'm curious. Linden left a door slightly ajar!
Anyway, I shall say no more. I love Jamie and Olivia's story. I can't decide whose story I liked the most, because I liked them all! Maybe Joan/Tristan's, Abigail/Sebastian's, or Olivia/Jamie's. But seriously, this whole series is so good!
What I Did Not Like:
Hmm. I can't think of anything, except maybe more from Jamie and Olivia in the epilogue? The epilogue features someone else - which is fine! - but I was hoping to catch Jamie and Olivia's happily ever after in even more detail, in the epilogue. But that's okay! Maybe there will be more books to the series. *winks*
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book - and series - if you're a historical romance fan. I read tons of historical romance novels, and I usually enjoy what I read, but I especially like this Scandalous series. I love how Linden weaves the stories together, places characters and subplots meticulously into each book. And I love how well-written and developed her characters are. And the romances!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars (I think I'm being a little mean here, but it doesn't quite feel like a five-star read, though it does feel like a year-end favorite). I so hope that there will be more (full-length) novels in the series, though I would be content if there weren't.