This is the debut novel of Jillian Stone's, The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. It takes place in 1887 London.
Detective Inspector Zeno Augustus Kennedy, also known as Zak, works for Special Irish Branch, a division of Scotland Yard that primarily investigates anarchists. He is in the process of trying to track down some suspected arsonists, Fenians, who have been planting large amounts of dynamite throughout the country. Many people have been hurt or killed by the explosions of the placed dynamite, including Zak's mistress, a very popular actress, Jayne Wells.
Widow Cassandra St. Cloud, also known as Lady Rosslyn and Cassie, had just emerged from a lengthy mourning period as was the custom of those times. She is ready to begin her life again and get on with her teaching of art students and the progression of her own painting. Her emerging independence is exemplified by her desire to reside on her own and Cassie has currently taken possession of a home that is adjoined to her landlord, Mr. Kennedy. It also seems Cassie has several connections to the suspected arsonists, known at the Bloody Four, and their companions, unbeknown to her.
When Zak and Cassie's world collide will either person be the same?
"An Affair With Mr. Kennedy" is an intriguing novel of mystery, romance, historical notations, and humor.
Cassie emerges as a fiercely independent woman that is way ahead of her time. She smokes cigars on the sly; wears riding clothes when on her horse, as opposed to the traditional skirts and side-saddle technique; and rides her bicycle out in public in pants, causing quite a stir - good and bad - with the local men. Her mother, a doctor, is very liberated and is part of a Women's Lib organization, and has passed her opinions down to her only daughter. The Women's Lib is written quite well and doesn't become the main focus of any part of the story. I'm all for Women's Lib but this story wasn't the place to get totally absorbed in the movement and the author handled it properly. She, unfortunately, gets involved in the in a game of cat and mouse that brings her into Zak's life as more than just a tenant.
Det. Zeno, "Zak," Kennedy is busy hunting down arsonists when the beautiful widow, Cassandra St. Cloud, requests housing in the domicile next to, and owned, by him. When he learns her connections to Lord Delamere, and that her brother-in-law is Gerald St. Cloud, Zak finds a way to insert himself into Cassie's life. What starts out as a way "in" to the inner circle of Lord Delamere quickly changes pace when feelings start developing between Zak and Cassie. To complicate matters, Lord Delamere wants Cassie for himself and goes to long lengths to make it so.
Zak is a very strong hero and his character is completely swoon-worthy. Yes, I said it -- "Swoon-worthy." He takes his job very seriously, as any lawman should, but was written with compassion and caring, too. He goes to great lengths to protect Cassie from the threats that surround her. He opens up a bit more as the story progresses, showing his comfort level with Cassie is very high. Cassie, as I've already noted, is a very independent woman. She is strong-willed and protests all the extra protection that Zak insists she have, which isn't always the brightest of decisions, as Cassie will learn. She is a very likable character despite her judgement issues. All of the secondary characters play their parts expertly; baddies were indeed bad and the good guys did their thing.
The revelations that lay within the pages of this novel are well played and revealed at exactly the right times. There aren't any awkward transitions from scene-to-scene or between characters. The plot is strong and is consistent from start to finish. The steamy scenes weren't scorching or erotic, but written in a tasteful, romantic way. The use of a certain word used multiple times to refer to Mr. Kennedy's male parts was annoying but the book was so good I can overlook this.
I'll be honest---I Googled the topic of condoms....this topic pops up in various parts of the book and I just wanted to see when they were invented to make sure they were, you know, used during this time period....They were :)
"An Affair With Mr. Kennedy" has one main storyline with several other smaller ones threaded in for good measure. Each smaller plot line was well developed and if back history was needed, the author made sure we had it. I love the way Ms. Stone wrote the mystery and romance within the pages. I enjoyed this book very much. It kept me engaged from the very beginning. There aren't any slow or boring sections. The dialogue is comfortable and flows well. Zak and Cassie will pull you in and take you for the ride of your life; action and adventure abound.
I have an ARC of Book 2 primed and waiting at the top of the TBR pile. Look for the review to come closer to the end of August.
(Obtained "An Affair With Mr. Kennedy" from my local library).