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Julianne is in a bit of a quarry. Her husband has been dead about a year. She believes his death was not a suicide as it was ruled, but a murder. Her step-son is about her age and has never liked her. He is now threatening to cut her off if she doesn't marry his friend, who Julianne abhors. She has also been contacted by an unknown individual. Her husband had obtained some ancient daggers prior to his death. Through hard work and determination, he located 5 of the set of 6. The anonymous person had demanded all 6 daggers. He will pay Julianne handsomely should she deliver, or withdraw the offer at the end of the deadline set. The problem is that she doesn't have any ides where the final dagger lays. If she manages to deliver the daggers the money would take care of her and she wouldn't have to worry about being cut off by her step-son. Her biggest fear is that she will have to close down the home for young girls with nowhere to go without the funds to support it. Could she possibly have anything else to deal with? Enter Jacob.
Jacob is a well known rake and woos only women who will be unable to try and trap him onto a permanent arrangement. Mostly, they have to be married. He also has a mysterious gift that allows him to touch a metal object and see the history of said object. While Jacob does not advertise exactly what this gift is, he does embrace his extraordinary talent and aims to put his ability to good use. He also has remarkable intuition and knows immediately when he is being lied to. So Julianne seeks his services out in an attempt to locate the missing dagger.
The two share an immediate attraction and fairly quickly succumb to their desires while simultaneously trying to resist the deeper pull that draws them together. Jacob does not tell Julianne much about his gift initially, but she is a clever woman and is able to deduce much from her observations. Once everything is out on the table, they begin to work together more effectively and begin conquering their difficulties one at a time. They have a dagger to locate, an anonymous buyer to expose, a secret society suspected of wanting the dagger to infiltrate, countless other dangerous possibilities, and the biggest obstacle of all to overcome ... acknowledging their deep feelings for one another.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it did have a couple of faults. I liked both main characters, but I didn't fall in love with them. Their wit and humor was absolutely fabulous and is possibly the component that made the book for me. I love snark and Ms. Marlowe excelled at it.
The problem, I think, is that there was just too much going on in the book to make it flow seamlessly. First, Julianne used to be an actress. She married an older man, but she had no title what-so-ever. While marrying below station is not outside the realm of possibility, I don't know that her status as a former start of the stage served any purpose other than to mention it here and there. I was also a bit taken back by Jacob's power. I read the blurb, but his power is more so in the genre of paranormal ability. I wasn't expecting an entire paranormal component as this book is listed as a historical romance. Not that I didn't enjoy Jacob's ability. It was out-of -the-box and added a bit of excitement to the story. It was just unexpected. One thing that I missed was that this is the second book in series. Jacob's family is peppered with gifted individuals in alternate forms of ability. Had I read the first book, perhaps everything would have made a bit more sense to me. I think the book blurb just barely touched on the contents of the book and so a lot is left to discover within the book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could be slightly misleading to the readers as far as expectation.
Another thing I found odd was that there was no resolution to the step-son issue. He just kind of dropped out of the story. He was mentioned a few times and then, POOF, nothing. He is, quite possibly, an unnecessary character. In the end, other than a few missives sent to tell Julianne to get her butt back to the estate to marry his friend, he served very little purpose. And finally, the ending. The book worked up to this final "battle" if you will and then just ends. There could have easily been another chapter or two or even an epilogue. Anything to keep the book from ending to suddenly. It was like introduce all of the problems, work up to the climax, climax, BOOM, over. GAH! In fact I think that is what I said when the book was over. "Gah! Are you kidding me? That's it?" I thought I had another chapter at least, but it was a segment taken from the first book. I felt a bit let down with the abrupt ending. In fact, abrupt is even too long in meaning to describe the ending as it was only a matter of a few paragraphs. The showdown of sorts between good versus evil and about five paragraphs following. The ending was actually unfortunate because even with the pointless past and character, I still didn't count my time spent reading the book as wasted. With the rushed ending, I have to re-evaluate my feelings. I only hope that as an uncorrected proof, the ending was given a bit of a makeover.
So here is what I think. If you are a fan of the author, you are probably going to like the book regardless. If you have read the first book, you will know what to expect with this one and not be in store for any unexpected aspects. If I had the chance for a do-over, I would definitely read the first book prior. Hindsight from book one may have given be a bit better understanding before beginning this book. If you enjoy historical romance with a paranormal slant, you will very possibly find this book to your liking. For those who dislike abrupt endings and details that could be interpreted as superfluous, I caution you: You may well enjoy the read until the end. Like I said, I did enjoy the book for the most part, but it could have been better.
(Uncorrected paperback proof provided by Kensington for review.)