This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I fully intend to try the second book in the series. I understand her future focus will be on writing Regency romance rather than mysteries and I have not tried reading a romance by her.
Miss Victoria (Vicky) Parker inherited her father’s accounting business, Parker Accounting, several years ago after her father died. The only choices she had was to close the firm or find a male to be the face of the business – because – well – none of their clients would do business with a female. Luckily for her, she has just the perfect person to be the face of the business. James Kensington was her father’s assistant for years and he has been Vicky’s friend for years as well and he had no qualms about stepping up to become the face of the company.
One of the largest and most important clients of their firm is Felton Warwick, the Duke of Everton, and he has always been most cordial when he has been in their offices. However, he is a duke and the Parkers are common business people, so it was a great surprise when Vicky and James received an invitation to spend the weekend at the duke’s country estate about an hour outside London. Vicky frets about the reason for the invitation – is he planning to sever his relationship with their firm? Has he discovered that Vicky is the one in charge? If he knows, will he tell others and will they quit doing business with them?
Upon arrival at the estate, they find there are other guests as well. Besides the residents of the home – the duke, his much younger duchess (Charlotte), his son (George), and his son’s wife (Lavinia), there is Baron William Gerard and Richard Kent who Vicky considers to be vile and outrageous in his behavior. Had Vicky known Richard was going to be in attendance she might have reconsidered attending.
The duke has set appointments to speak with each of his guests and nobody has any idea why – he has only said the meetings are ‘important’. Vicky is very nervous when her appointed time – midnight – arrives. She pushes the door open and greets the duke – who doesn’t respond. She addresses him again and still no response. Then – she realizes he is dead and he has written one word on the paper beneath his hand – BETRAYED! OMGoodness! She doesn’t scream and starts to back out of the room.
I guessed who the perpetrator was almost as soon as the murder happened, so it isn’t too much of a puzzle. Just logic. However, the suspects are all entangled in some sort of other intrigue, affairs, etc. and they all lie and tell half-truths when questioned. It amazed me that it took Vicky so long to put the clues together or to look at the logic of it.
While this book didn’t bowl me over, I will try the next book in the series. I did like James and Vicky and will enjoy seeing where their relationship leads them. I thought the writing was a bit stilted and conversations were stiff. I thought perhaps the author was trying to emulate the more formal speech patterns of the times, but this version seemed more stilted than not. One thing that also bothered me was that George wasn’t immediately recognized as the new duke by the attendees and staff. As soon as his father died, George was the duke and should have been addressed as Your Grace, etc. Yes, the formalities had to be done in London, but he was the duke at that point.
I can recommend the book for a quick read – and if you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it.