Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Clandestine Affairs, #2
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Fourteen years after the murder of his parents, Thomas “Griff” Ellis, the Viscount Griffin receives a package with a ring belonging to his late mother, a ring that was stolen the night she was killed. In an effort to track down the sender, he visits the post office, hoping for a lead, but is sent away empty-handed. He visits a nearby coffeehouse and is shocked when he sees a lovely woman enter, wearing his mother’s necklace. The woman stops at the table of some young noblemen who apparently requested her services as a bonesetter to mock her. Angry, the woman dislocates the man’s wrist, telling him to visit her office to get it fixed, and storms out.
Griff learns her name and due to a war injury, has an excuse to visit her offices, even though he doesn’t believe she will be able to help him, since his former guardian is a respected doctor and wasn’t able to alleviate his pain, nor had any of the specialists he has seen. So he is shocked when her treatments work. They form a friendship and he confesses his true reason for seeking her out and she offers to help any way she can.
Hanna Zaydan is the daughter of immigrants from the Levant, most of her family is involved in the cotton trade, but her father was a bonesetter and taught her the art, much to the dismay of her mother and grandmother, who hoped she would marry a nice Arab man and start a family. Hanna truly has a gift for bonesetting and will not give up her practice, therefore she believes marriage and a family are not a part of her future. Her attraction to Griff is inconvenient and impossible, even if he wanted to marry her, her family would never approve. But that doesn’t stop her from helping him solve the mystery of who murdered his parents and why.
Almost as soon as they start digging into the past, ugly truths begin to emerge and everything Griff has been told seems to be lies. Add to this, his former guardian seeming to have a vendetta against Hanna, and a secret he has kept for years coming out and forcing him to offer marriage to save a friend’s honor. All of these combined seem to ensure that there is no possibility for a HEA with the woman he has come to love.
This was a well-written, fast-paced story with wonderful characters and a fresh and original plot. The book is filled with secrets, lies, betrayal, murder, interesting facts on bonesetting, class/station differences, prejudice, warm love scenes, help from unexpected sources, and finally a HEA that seemed impossible. This book achieved the perfect balance of mystery and romance, with neither aspect overpowering or detracting from the other, resulting in a well-balanced and gripping read. There were some typos and title errors, but this was an uncorrected proof, so those errors may be corrected before publication. This is the second book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone title with no problems.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*