Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Mayfair Men of Mystery, #1
Release Date: March 25, 2019
Jacob Baker is the new Earl of Ashland, much to his dismay. He is a good and kind man who still nurses a broken heart after the death of his wife and son. And who before he inherited, he enjoyed his quiet life as a solicitor and is not prepared for the duties of being the earl. While going to meet his friend Oliver, the Earl of Armsbruster, he saves a boy from being trampled by a horse, he makes sure the boy is unharmed and seeing that he is nearly starved, gives him a coin. He meets with Oliver and they discuss a string of unsolved, gruesome murders, then Oliver tells Jacob that his mother the Countess has learned of his inheritance and is planning a party to “introduce” him. He dreads the thought of entering society. Days later, he gets a visit from Baroness Morris, she wants to hire him to find her missing niece, he refuses, but Lady Morris is insistent and leaves him a sketch of Charlotte. He looks at the drawing and is mesmerized by the girl’s eyes, they seem familiar, but he still refuses.
The boy he saved is actually Charlotte Morris, niece to Martha Morris, Baroness Morris. She ran away from home after years of abuse culminating in a horrific scene that had Charlotte fearing for her life. She has been hiding out in the rookeries of London barely surviving, but she has a plan, she wants to move to America and tutor American heiresses on English etiquette. She is intrigued by Jacob and goes back to the street she met him on, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. When he exits his club, she follows him. He pays a visit to her friend Lady Sarah and she burns to know why. She confronts Sarah the next day and learns that her aunt is looking for her, Sarah believes that Charlotte can trust Jacob and urges her to meet with him.
Jacob is kind to her and offers to help her, but she is not ready to reveal the truth of her disappearance. She does agree to let him help her move to America and moves into his house. As they spend time together, she begins to trust him and finally shares her story and her suspicions. Jacob is drawn to her, but believes that love is not in his future, he loved his wife with all his heart and is sure it died with her. But he cannot deny he is attracted to her and when they share a kiss, he isn’t sure what he feels, but knows that he doesn’t want her to go to America. He tries to reunite her with her mother’s family in an attempt to get her to stay and even offers marriage. Charlotte is falling for Jacob, but she won’t marry a man who cannot love her. She is determined to move, but when Jacob appeals to her sense of justice and promises to protect her from her aunt and cousin, she agrees.
It seems like they will have a good life together, but after a hostile visit from her aunt prods them to go to Scotland Yard with Charlotte’s theory of who is behind the murders, they unwittingly set a sting of events into motion that may cost them more than they ever imagined.
I really enjoyed this story, I wasn’t sure I would because I don’t usually care for stories where one of the main characters has been in love before, and while I would have liked less comparison between Charlotte and Cora (especially regarding the love scenes), I did believe that Jacob truly loved Charlotte. The story was well written and flowed nicely. The mystery is a little gruesome and suspenseful, but I thought it was well done and the conclusion was satisfying. I think the eARC I received must be an uncorrected copy as there are some inconsistencies, some glaring historical inaccuracies and the continuous incorrect use of the title of dowager. But those aside, it was still an enjoyable, gripping read that I would be happy to recommend.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*