Letters to a Lover by Mary Lancaster
Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Crime & Passion #2
Publication Date: 4/27/21
Period: Victorian London – 1852
Number of Pages: 221
Finding this author’s work in an anthology – which I NEVER read – and then looking for more was kismet. Then finding that she had a new series in my favorite genre – historical mystery – was again – kismet. I loved the first book in the series, Mysterious Lover, and could hardly wait to see what would happen next. Well, what happens next is a wonderfully exciting, interesting, mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end – AND – a beautifully done second-chance at love romance. Yep – this book has it all. While this book can easily be read and enjoyed as a standalone, I would definitely recommend reading the first book of the series in order to understand how our main investigators came to be – besides, it is a great book.
We met all of Grizelda’s (Griz) ducal family in the previous book – some were wonderful, some were tolerable, but they all loved Griz, so that is always a plus. This book features Griz’s older sister Azalea, Viscountess Trench, and her husband Eric, Viscount Trench. I absolutely LOVED both Azalea and Eric and I just know you will as well. Zalea and Eric have been married for eight years and it was a love match from the start. However, the two have grown apart – not because they don’t still love each other, but because Zalea doesn’t know how to ask for help and Eric doesn’t know how to give it without her telling him what she needs. Mostly, it is pride causing the divide. Zalea needed support in dealing with melancholia (post-partum depression) after the birth of their last child. Four years later, their marriage is faltering and Zalea is very fearful they can never mend it.
Over the last few days, Zalea has become very concerned because she has discovered she’s missing total periods of time in her memory. People have mentioned things she has said to them – or they have said to her – and she has absolutely no memory of them. That is so frightening – what else has she said or done that she doesn’t remember? Unfortunately, she might have written love letters to someone other than her husband – and now a blackmailer has them. How could that be? She absolutely adores her husband and would never be unfaithful to him. But – did she? She can’t be sure since she is having so many blanks in her memory.
Zalea is smart enough to know she can’t handle this alone – and she certainly cannot tell Eric – so, she goes to her younger sister Griz and her new husband Dragan Tisza for help. Zalea is determined to meet the blackmailer’s demands – but she also wants him dealt with and gone forever. It seems the blackmailer is a sly one and always seems to outwit them one way or another. Keeping Eric out of the investigation didn’t work for very long and he almost manages to get the blackmailer, but again – he escaped.
Our band of investigators is working through lists of possible suspects. Some they are sure didn’t do it, but can’t really be eliminated – and others could very well be the villain. The problem is, they really have no evidence and even if they identified the villain, they couldn’t prosecute him. Then, when Zalea’s life is threatened, things get really tense. They have to find and deal with the perpetrator – and finally – a clue – a real clue surfaces.
During all of the anxiety and stress of the blackmail, Zalea and Eric are busily working on recapturing the wonderful, loving marriage they once had. It is heartwarming to see two soulmates find their way back to each other and find their HEA.
This was an excellently written, well-presented, perfectly paced mystery (and romance) and the villain will surprise you. There are lots of hints, viable suspects, and red herrings, but I suspect you might be guessing till the end.
I definitely recommend this book and this series.