With the growing popularity of Romantic Suspense/Mysteries, Callie Hutton decided she’d try her hand at writing in that genre. Goodness, I am sure glad she did and I hope she continues with it as it is one of my favorites. Some intuition usually has me identifying the villain almost as soon as they grace the page – but it took me close to fifty percent of the book before the villain dawned on me this time. Even then I wasn’t sure. So – well done in the mystery department! Then, as for the romance side of the story – goodness – there was tension from the first of the story and it continued through the entire steamy story. But it was more than just the steam – we also got to see the characters come to know each other and care for each other, even though neither wanted a romance.
Mrs. Charlotte Pennyworth is just coming out of mourning for her husband, Gabriel. They were only married about a month before he was killed in a reckless racing accident. She has come to understand that men cannot be trusted or relied upon. The son of her former employer tried to coerce her into becoming his mistress by threatening her with bringing false charges of theft against her. He was powerful and devious enough to make those stick too. Rather than submit, she packed her belongings and stole away even though she knew he’d still go forward with his false accusations. Then, a few months after arriving in London she met and married Gabriel who promptly died because of his recklessness. No, men cannot be counted upon because the ones who should have protected her did not. Now, as a comfortably-off widow, she has the freedom and independence to live her life as she wants. Or she did until things, some of them horrible, began to be left upon her doorstep. Scotland Yard didn’t have time to deal with it because all of its manpower was focused on Jack-the-Ripper. They suggested she hire Elliot Baker as a private investigator to solve the mystery.
Elliot Baker, private investigator, solicitor, and former inspector at Scotland Yard absolutely does not trust women. He left his career at Scotland Yard under a cloud because of being played false by a woman. He fell for her whole scam hook-line-and-sinker and it caused the permanent injury of a young officer who had a wife and two children. No, he’ll never, ever, trust another woman. He’s shocked when a woman walks into his office without an appointment and asks him to take on a case for her – his clients are always men. He absolutely does not trust her or her story and is sure she has some scheme going. Reluctantly, he ends up taking the case. Still, he doesn’t trust her – and he never will – but maybe he can unearth her scheme and thwart it.
Elliot is surprised by the things that are left on Charlotte’s doorstep and is determined to ferret out the villain. Things get scarier and scarier and Elliot is nearly killed, but still, they have no proof. Suspects, but no proof. Will they identify the villain before it is too late for Charlotte? Excitement and shivers run down the spine.
I can definitely recommend this exciting, romantic book and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. I do think Charlotte was much too quick to forgive in the end. Groveling was required, but forgiveness happened pretty quickly.