One of my favorite blended genres is history and romantic suspense so when I spotted this book, I had to give it a go. The historical backdrop is Victorian London with Jack the Ripper on the loose. The engaging and unusual pair of lovers are the detecting team trying to stop him. I really enjoyed this one from cover to cover.
This is the second book in a series and the couple from the first book do make their appearance, but it can be read as a standalone like I did. That being said, I plan to go back and get the first book when I get the chance.
Drew Foster is being released from prison after being incarcerated as the prime suspect for the Jack the Ripper crimes. His reputation is shot and many in London Society are still convinced that he did the crime. Drew knows his reputation for drunken behavior and other vices is what got him into trouble in the first place. He discovered that instead of being a legitimate son of a Duke that he was the man’s bastard so set out to drown the pain in drink. His stint in prison sobered him up and gave him the scare needed to pull himself together. His friend, Simon, the detective who made the arrest, was never really convinced that he was the culprit. Now Simon wants Drew to come to work for Scotland Yard to help catch the real killer. Simon believes that the Ripper is someone who Drew knows that set him up for the crime. Drew is eager to help.
Anna Jacobs is studying to become a doctor much to her mother’s frustration and disappointment. Her mother wants her to follow the dictates of Society by becoming a quiet, unassuming woman to tempt a man into marriage. Anna gently refuses. Not that she’s opposed to marriage, but she is who she is. To spare her mother, she stays over at her brother Simon’s house to do her studying. It is there she is called upon to stitch up and dress the wounds of Lord Drew Foster, younger brother of the Duke of Carrington. She isn’t impressed with his arrogance and snappish attitude about her doctoring, but later he shocks her when he apologizes and makes it clear that he is impressed with her chosen studies. When Simon gets sent away on assignment, Drew even comes to her with help looking over the medical evidence for the Ripper case. Anna slowly is charmed by this new Drew Foster who struggles to stay sober and not doubt his abilities as a detective. He seems to also struggle with their mutual attraction.
Meanwhile, the Ripper is licking his wounds far from his London hunting grounds plotting his next rash of slayings when he learns of the new killings. He has an apprentice to train it seems.
The plot was good and I enjoyed the dual focus of the romance and the murder mystery that were fairly equally balanced. The story is told from three perspectives: Drew, Anna and the unknown Jack the Ripper (shudder, I know). The crimes are gruesome to be sure, but the details are given with a certain amount of detachment for the most part.
The detecting adventures of Drew and Anna were exciting to be right there with them and I loved the slow build of a romantic relationship and passionate tension. Drew fights the attraction because he doesn’t think he’s good enough, but Anna makes it clear that his acceptance her just as she is and his very nature are what she wants and needs. She is also what he needs because Anna is no typical Society debutante worried about appearances and correct behavior. She can match Drew’s adventuresome side and partner him in intelligence as well as passion.
My only niggle for the story was that I felt the ending of the romance was rushed. None of this really brought on dislike, but I would have loved to spend a bit more time on the denouement with Drew and Anna. There is a type of closure for them, but some stuff is left to conjecture.
All in all, this was an engaging and spicy historical romance that offered up a strong dose of suspense too. Those who enjoy that blend in their romance genres should pick this one up.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review.
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