Series: Studies in Scandal, #3
Release Date: January 30, 2018
This installment of the Studies in Scandal series, focuses on Sophia Hastings, artist in her own right and art historian and Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle, the vicar of Little Seaford’s parish. They met in the previous book and reconnect in this book. The book opens with Sophia taking a tumble over a cliff and Ben coming to her rescue. While checking her for injuries, they overhear a plot to kill someone. Sophia immediately wants to investigate, but Ben urges caution and insists on returning her to the house. Ben agrees that the plot they overheard warrants investigation and promises to collect her belongings, check for clues and return to share his findings with her.
Even though she is injured, Sophia is determined to attend the ball at the Morgan home that night, for two reasons, one her Aunt Dahlia has asked her to see if rumors about Peter Morgan running for a seat in the commons is true and also to see if she will recognize the voices of the men she heard talking on the cliff that morning. Ben also attends the ball and is surprised to see Sophia in attendance. He helps her escape her admirers and goes to find her sister, so she can be taken home. He is waylaid by Morgan who asks him to join him in preventing Sophia from exhibiting her art at the upcoming art show, he refuses and knows he has made an enemy.
He returns home to find his brother Freddie there, the Home Office has asked him to see if Ben would look into some allegations of forgery that seem to be coming out of Little Seaford. Ben briefly wonders if Sophia is involved, but after hearing all the details, knows she is not and thinks she might be able to help him.
Morgan makes another visit to Ben and threatens to report him to the Archbishop of Canterbury if he does not stand with him against Sophia, Morgan has his own artist and doesn’t want Sophia’s work to garner more attention than Thomas Ryder, his man. Again Ben refuses and decides to call on Sophia. He and his brother call on her and discuss the forgery problem, Sophia suggests they visit the Primble’s, owners and patrons of an artist colony. There they learn that Morgan’s artist, Thomas Ryder could in fact be a forger – he has the talent. Armed with this information, Freddie returns to London. Ben returns Sophia to the house and is surprised that his brother Cameron is there – fighting with Gemma (Sophia’s sister). He and Cam leave and return to the vicarage. Ben is given a cryptic message to meet someone at Framingham’s art gallery. Restless, Sophia decides to go to the village and see if she can learn anything about the forgeries from Mr. Framingham. She goes to the gallery and is confronted by Thomas Ryder. She enrages him and as he is about to strike her, Ben intervenes. Thomas leaves and Ben and Sophia share a kiss, which is interrupted by a shout from the back room. They find Thomas standing over the dead body of Mr. Framingham.
As with the previous books, the story is well done and interwoven with a delightful mystery. This installment was just as good as the previous books, it is well written, flows nicely, has some steamy love scenes, a nasty villain, a decent mystery that doesn’t overshadow the love story, cameos from the other heiresses, several plots twists that will keep you guessing “whodunit” until the very end and finally a very sweet HEA.
This is the third book in the series, but it really could be read as a stand alone title with no problems, I would happily recommend this book and am looking forward to Gemma’s story!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*