Scarlett Parker goes with her cousin Viv to Paris, where Viv is teaching a class on high end millinery and Scarlett is going to hunt down Vivian’s husband whom she left after just a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon in Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay. Scarlett locates the husband, William Graham, without much trouble, and finds that he is an insurance art investigator. He refuses to sign any annulment papers unless Viv has dinner with him, so Scarlett drags the highly reluctant Viv to the restaurant, where the estranged couple hits it off amazingly. After dinner, William takes the women to his insurance company to show them a painting by Renoir that has resurfaced and is being fought over in court. But as the trio leave the insurance building, thugs jump Will and abduct him. Immediately Scarlett calls the pair’s business advisor, Harrison, for help. The police don’t consider the situation one in which they can do much. So the ladies are thrilled to see Harrison arrive to their rescue, but things become even more dire when a thug approaches them demanding the painting. They learn that it got stolen from the insurance company shortly after William took the two cousins to see it.
The rest of the book follows the adventures of the friends, especially as they are joined by more friends from London. In the midst of all this time, Scarlett talks almost nonstop about her romantic feelings for Harrison. She still has about two months left on her commitment not to date for a year, so the two, who are clearly in love, try to push the boundaries of the definition of dating, with each inwardly groaning over having to wait for the other. This talk gets really tiresome at times, as it goes on and on and gets so sappy. This series has dealt with such romantic tension throughout, but it is over the top in this particular book. I did enjoy the ending, which did not follow expected lines and was creative.
The narration for this series has always over explained things going on, but this book spends well over half an hour explaining in detail the course of the series from book one to this, book five. The voice takes on a didactic tone of telling the readers the details about who each person who joins the activities is. This really should be unnecessary. Books should either not be related to others in a series or should expect the readers to have a knowledge of the prior activities in the series.
The plot did not have the strength of the other books in the series and especially the other two series by McKinlay. The cupcake series and the library series have much more depth to the mystery plots, and I like them a lot more than the hat shop series. And Assault and Beret is probably the weakest book in the hat shop series. Too much time of what could be devoted to a mystery plot was spent listening to Scarlett’s angst about her love life.
Karyn O’Bryant returns to narrate the audiobook. I like her performance in general. With this book, I think she too easily followed the lead of McKinlay in emoting everything over the top. She assisted in making the whole book overly dramatized.
I really was not particularly impressed by Assault and Beret. I give it only two stars.
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