Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Distinguished Rogues, #9
Release Date: May 8, 2018
The book opens with Gilbert Bowen, the Earl of Sorenson rushing into Lady Berry’s home to save his friend Price Wagstaff, the Earl of Carmichael from being officially charged with murder for the death of Angela Berry. Gilbert vows to find the killer and clear Carmichael’s name. Gilbert has a reputation of a being a brilliant investigator and before he inherited the earldom and was a simple country vicar, he helped Bow Street solve many crimes. But never has a case been more important to him, Carmichael is one of his oldest and dearest friends and only a very few people know that he was in love with Angela and had planned to announce their betrothal at the ball.
Anna Beasley is a very proper young lady, daughter of Carmichael’s godfather and good friend to Angela Berry, she is dancing with Viscount Wade at Almack’s when Carmichael enters. Carmichael is the bane of her existence, her father would love nothing more than for Carmichael and Anna to make a match, but she would rather die a spinster than marry a rake like Carmichael. He approaches her with a friend in tow – a very handsome friend and he teases her. Introductions are made and his friend, Gilbert, Lord Sorenson is charming and nothing like Carmichael. Anna asks if they have seen Angela and Carmichael seems upset and leaves, Gilbert too makes his excuses, he has promised the next set to Anna’s friend Portia. Anna is surprised that she is jealous and tries to ignore the attraction she feels for Gilbert.
The plot thickens when Gilbert’s investigation undercovers two more murdered women with ties to Carmichael, it seems Carmichael has kissed all the slain women. With no real leads, Gilbert forces Carmichael to remain in society and they keep Angela’s death secret while they investigate. They attend a ball on Friday night and Gilbert sees Anna again – Carmichael teases him about her and says he should pretend to court her, she was good friends with Angela and might have information that would help them. Gilbert refuses, he is attracted to Anna, but he won’t use her for information. He dances with her, but ignores her while they are dancing and then goes to dance with other ladies and chats with them, Anna is hurt and slips away to compose herself. But she finds more than she was bargaining for – Carmichael and Gilbert are in the room as well as the murdered body of Miss Goldwell, another friend of hers. She is understandably upset, but Gilbert asks her to keep quiet about what she has seen.
Over the course of the next few days, Anna wonders about Miss Goldwell’s death and when she runs into Gilbert, she asks about news of Miss Goldwell. Gilbert finally gives into his attraction and kisses her. When they are caught together, he announces that they are betrothed. Anna is shocked, but plays along. They say they haven’t spoken to her father yet and beg Lord Wade and Lady Winmere to not say anything.
Anna tells Gilbert he doesn’t need to marry her, but he finds that he wants her as his wife and asks for time to court her. She has doubts, but agrees.
When yet another murder is committed and this time is found out by the ton – Gilbert worries for Anna’s safety, especially when he learns Carmichael kissed her once – he insists that they marry.
This was a very fast paced murder mystery with a dash of romance. The writing is excellent and the story flows nicely, the mystery is well done and kept me guessing until almost the very end, the romance is sweet and understated, but it is not lost to the mystery.
This is the ninth book in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone title. I would happily recommend this book and look forward to more installments.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*