Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Pennington Family #3
Publication Date: 8/7/18
Unfortunately, I decided to begin this wonderful book about an hour before bedtime. From the first word on the first page it pulled me into another time and another place and didn’t let me go until quite some time after I had finished the last word early this morning. It is beautifully written and filled with characters you want to get to know as friends. And the ending – Oh! My Goodness! It is perfect. I am almost always dissatisfied when a book doesn’t have an epilogue – I feel as if I’m not done with it yet. Without an epilogue, this book closed up all of the loose ends and provided a lovely, poignant HEA. There was even a wonderful solution for a street urchin I was hoping would have his own HEA.
This is absolutely my favorite kind of book, historical with a mystery AND a romance. Absolutely perfect. The villain is a mad fiend – sort of a Jack the Ripper type. He’s been stalking the underground of Edinburgh for decades and three years ago he murdered the sister of Captain Ian Kerr Bell of Bellhorne, Fife. Now, Ian haunts the Vaults (huge underground area) of Edinburgh in search of his sister’s murderer. Ian is riddled with guilt – he should have done more to protect her. How did she even get to such a place? She wasn’t a flighty girl – she was intelligent and careful.
Now, imagine Ian’s shock and dismay when he is in the Vaults and hears the sounds of a fight and runs to the location. He finds a crumpled form lying at bottom of a staircase – and a man, dressed in black, at the top of the stairs. As Ian picks up the unconscious man at the foot of the stairs, he quickly realizes that it isn’t a man at all – it is a woman – and a woman of means. Finally, when Ian gets her to his carriage he realizes that it is Lady Phoebe Pennington, daughter of the Earl of Aytoun – his deceased sister’s best friend.
Phoebe is a crusader – a reformer. She’s writing newspaper articles under a pseudonym and she is hot on the trail of a story showing that the charity hospitals, poorhouses, etc. are turning out the sick and infirm in order to make themselves look better for a fact-finding group that is coming up from London. She just needs absolute proof and she has an informant who has agreed to sell her the proof she needs – but she must meet him in the Vaults or he won’t provide the documents. Since she must have the proof, she agrees. However she isn’t an idiot, so she hires Duncan Turner, a surly Highlander, as her bodyguard. As she and Duncan find the place, they get separated and Phoebe sees a man chasing a half-grown boy with the intent of killing him. Phoebe doesn’t even think – she just acts and chases after the two. As she attacks the villain, the boy escapes and the villain comes after Phoebe. When she awakes from her tumble down the steps, she finds she is in a carriage with a furious Ian Bell – her deceased friend’s brothere and a man she was infatuated with in her youth.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Ian and Phoebe have several encounters and some of them open her eyes to what being a good reporter really is. Then, when Phoebe is really in danger – can Ian save her – more than once?
This is a fast-paced book that will hold your interest from beginning to end. The descriptions of the time and place are so vivid that you can smell the fetid bogs, feel the warm sunshine and see the blue skies over Edinburgh and Bellhorne.
This is part of a series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone. I have read all of the other books in the series and highly recommend those as well as this one.
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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”