Setting - England 1817 --- Raphael 'Rafe' Danvers, did not fit into the polite ton society since coming home from the Peninsular wars, yet here he was being summoned by the Countess Tottley to join her at her morning salon. It seemed that the young daughters of the ton had thought to emulate a popular 'fictional' heroine who had vowed after the demise of her 'fictional' beau to never marry! This author had to be found, in order to make her stop writing so that the match-making mamas of the ton could convince their impressionable young daughters to stop turning down offers of marriage to their eligible suitors. Knowing that Rafe had no home of his own, Lady Tottley thought to entice him in aiding her and mothers of the other marriageable daughters of the ton to locate M. Briggs the elusive author of the immensely popular Miss Darby chronicles, by offering him an estate - a bit of a 'handy-man's special.
Rafe, a confirmed bachelor, would rather solve the murder he'd been working on with the promise of a hefty monetary reward but the thought of an estate - a home to call his own - was just too good to pass up. He traveled to every bachelors nightmare, the matchmaking capital of Kent - Bramley Hollow where he discovered the very infuriating and lovely Miss Rebecca Tate. His gut feelings told him she was the elusive author, and his brain told him he should forget about it and go look for a murderer instead - it would have been less dangerous for his state of mind and body.
Normally, I have found Elizabeth Boyle's novels to be fast and funny page-turners, but have to confess that I couldn't categorize this in the 'I can't put it down' standard I associate with her earlier books. While the story was good, it just didn't engage my emotions as much as her previous novels of the other Danver family members. The zest just wasn't there, even with some very engaging sparring matches between the main protagonists. The mystery of the original murder Rafe was working to solve was eventually worked into the search for the elusive author and brought to an almost too abrupt conclusion - but of course, the romance was the prime objective. The one thing that didn't seem to make sense to me with regard to the heroines apparent insolvency was her obvious success of the Miss Darby novels. With so successful a writing career her fixation and greediness in wanting to obtain and keep the legendary and valuable Kailash ruby seemed out of place, especially where she seemed to want to stay and live a peaceful existence in the country. Some of the more enjoyable and humorous moments were provided by Rebecca's 'batty' uncle; her very ferocious tom-cat Ajax; and of course, the witty dialogs filling out the requisite gender banter. Bottom line - My nit-picking aside, this was still an entertaining effort and fans of Elizabeth Boyle will not be too disappointed. --- Marilyn Rondeau, Official Reviewer for [...] ---