An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (Gentlemen of Scotland Yard) Mass Market Paperback – 31 Jan 2012
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About the Author
Jillian Stone was the 2010 RWA Golden Heart winner in Historical Romance for her debut novel, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, the first in her Scotland Yard trilogy. She also writes a steampunk series for Kensington books. Visit her at GJillianStone.com. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
London’s West End, 1887
Detective Inspector Zeno Kennedy unbuttoned his collar and pulled out a shirttail. “What have you got for me?”
Scarlet, aka Kitty Matthews, reclined on the mattress and struck a seductive pose. Propped on her elbows, the girl lowered and raised sultry green eyes in a brazen inspection of his person. “You blokes from Scotland Yard are a handsome lot.”
She arched her back and thrust her breasts up and out at him. Quite a robust figure—ample bottom and curvy topside. Studying her, he decided she could not be more than seventeen or eighteen years of age. A shapely little thing with chestnut-colored hair, big green eyes, and a button nose. She could easily raise a man’s temperature.
Zeno did his best to ignore the girl’s bountiful charms as he took up a post at the end of the bed-frame. “Actually, I work for Special Irish Branch.” He leaned over the brass rail.
Scarlet gaped at a bit of exposed chest. “Blue eyes and dark hair—Black Irish, are you?”
Zeno hastily pulled his shirt closed and admonished himself to be patient with his newest recruit. “Special Irish Branch is a division of Scotland Yard aimed at investigating anarchists. Fenians mostly. We’re after the blokes who want Home Rule for the Irish at any price, by any means.”
Her eyes grew wide. “The dynamiters?”
A low groan and squeaking bedsprings drifted through the wall. Zeno raised an index finger to his lips and gave a nod to the adjoining room.
The budding beauty in front of him typified the adolescent female offerings of this pleasure house. Mrs. Jeffries’s, as it was referred to in hushed tones among gentlemen at their clubs, was a popular brothel marketing young women—very young. Some were girls who had not yet been spoiled, for a steeper price.
With venereal disease rampant, and the Contagious Diseases Act repealed, men of means found the idea of a virgin, even if less bawdy, certainly a healthier amusement. It seemed the baser instincts of gentlemen of privilege would continue to find ways to avoid the pox at any cost, both to their pockets and to the lives of the innocent juveniles conscripted for such harsh duty.
Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigations Department of the Metropolitan Police had moved on some of the worst offenders, but there had been tremendous pressure from the top echelons to keep the safer brothels open. As for the use of young girls, Zeno’s position was well known. Turning a blind eye to their plight made them all dirty.
“You sent an urgent wire, Scarlet. Anything to report?”
“No, sir—I mean yes, sir.” She rolled her eyes. “Evening last, I was on my way home from the bedside of me sick mum. Just past the steam vent on Bixford, I see four gentlemen leave Mrs. Jeffries’s in search of their carriage, somewhere amongst the fancy rigs parked outside Drake’s.”
The girl referred to the gambling hell located close by. “Yes, I’m sure they were queued up around the block.” He tried a wry grin of encouragement. “Did you recognize anyone by name?“
“Not much to notice about them, except for Lord Delamere.”
“Delamere?” Zeno’s eyes narrowed. “Are you sure of this?”
She bobbed her head. “Hard to miss that handsome, cocksure puss. He’s not one of my regulars; he fancies Roxanne or Jemma.”
The elusive Lord Delamere had been a person of interest for some months now, along with his cadre of misfits—peers who styled themselves the Bloody Four. “Please continue, Scarlet.”
“Lord Delamere, he points to the next coach in line. ‘Where the bloody hell is our driver?’” A bit wild-eyed, she hesitated. “Next thing, he opens the carriage door and the nearby gas lamp lights up the inside—I swear, sir, I saw a pair of gents with their knickers down around their knees.”
Zeno needed confirmation. “Committing sodomy?”
She nodded. “One of Delamere’s boys raised a shout, ‘I say, what goes there?’ Then two of them reach inside and pull the buggers out, one after the other. Once they had them down in the street, they started kicking and pounding. Straight off, the younger molly wrenches away, pulls up his trousers and escapes down the lane.”
“No one ran after him?”
Scarlet shook her head. “Those blokes were too bladdered to give chase—turned back to their punches and kicks. Lord Delamere and another man stood near the coach door watching the tussle.”
Scarlet gulped. “His lordship leans in for a closer look. ‘Well, well, Albert. I wouldn’t have pegged you for a light-foot lad. Sorry about the thrashing.’
“The poor bashed-up gent, he spits blood and calls them a bunch of thickheaded cock-ups. Says they got the wrong coach, and now they’re all going to die for a mug’s game. Then he says, ‘I know every one of you by name. Rest assured, you’ll pay for this assault.’”
Scarlet chewed on her bottom lip. “Delamere’s puss turns right sneery. ‘I think not, Albert,’ he says, ‘’Tis you, my lord, who is going to pay for our silence.’”
Zeno clapped his mouth shut, just to make sure it wasn’t hanging open. “The younger man who got away. Did you get a look at him?”
“He knocked me onto my bum, sir.” She rubbed the back of her hip. “Close-cropped dark hair and light-colored eyes—ice blue they were. Handsome as the devil he was.”
“Lighter blue than mine?”
The girl wet her lips and flashed a sultry smile.
“Scarlet.” He lowered his chin and eyed her impatiently.
She rolled her eyes and sighed. “Different, very pale, almost like they were moonbeams.”
He placed an elbow on the brass rail and cupped his chin. “You are either in possession of an extraordinary memory or a wicked imagination.”
“You think I’d imagine such a tale? I’m telling you the God’s honest truth, sir.”
“Then might you provide a description of the men with Delamere? Take your time—the smallest detail would help.”
Her frown eased into a contemplative pout. “One of the young gents was light-haired, with a bit of a wave to it. Several locks fell down over his eyes. The other had dark chestnut hair. No beard or whiskers, like yourself. The third man was large, thick in the waist—ruddy cheeks on him. He stood beside the carriage door in a perspiration—”
Scarlet sat up straighter. “Lord Delamere eyed the nervous bloke. ‘Seen enough, James?’ Or he might have said—‘Seen too much, James?’ Plain enough words, but delivered in a harsh tone. More like …” Absently, the girl worked a bare foot up and down the bed sheet.
She drew her brows together. “Perhaps a jeer—or a warning.”
Zeno studied the young informant while he processed her story. “Good work, Scarlet.” The clever chit had even managed to dredge up another name, likely one of the Bloody Four. “I have a mind this small event you happened on will prove useful.” Even as Zeno praised the girl’s natural talents, his eyes betrayed him.
The coquette ran her finger along the edge of her camisole, across plump breasts, which revealed a hint of light, rose-colored flesh at their tips. “You want a sample, sir? All the others do.”
Caught in the act of ogling, he coughed. “Others?”
“Most inspectors want a taste. Everyone but you, Mr. Kennedy.”
Everyone? His stomach roiled a bit.
“Is there something wrong with me, something you don’t like?”
He tilted his head. “I think you are a very pretty girl.” Skirting the bed, he sat down and spoke softly. He used her real name. “Kitty, you are not contracted to perform favors for detectives unless it is a part of an authorized operation. If you are ever uncomfortable with these requests for your services, I want you to feel free to boot them out. Is that understood?”
She tried to blink back any show of emotion before throwing her arms around his neck. He managed a hug and a few pats on the back. These girls did not experience much fair play or kindness in their line of work.
“You’re a decent man, sir.” A thin smile crept across her face.
Not altogether pleased about being thought decent by such a fetching girl, he let go of her and stood. Prostitute or no, he would take no chances with her safety. This liaison must go off as authentic.
“All right then, let’s make this sound like we’re having a jolly good tumble, shall we?” Zeno gave the bed a hard push with his foot and went on to create a series of rhythmic thuds and thumps. The game little harlot added sighs and moans to the jiggle and squeak of the bedsprings. A final staccato of rapid knocks against the wall made it perfectly evident to all those in the house that hardworking Scarlet was on the job.
CASSANDRA ST. CLOUD hurried up the steps of New Hospital for Women. A tingle of anticipation rushed through her body. On the second floor she turned toward the offices of the Women’s Health Organization of Britain. A line of patients spilled out of the waiting room and snaked down the corridor. “Excuse me, ladies.” She wove a path between high-bustle skirts, and turned down a narrow passageway marked Deliveries.
Cassandra gave the brass doorknob a turn, and poked her head in the door. “Dr. Erskine …” Her voice queried in a singsong fashion. “Mother?”
No answer. Just some low, mewling whimpers and a gasp of suppressed laughter.
What was Mama Olivia up to? She ventured inside the office and slipped past a few crates of medical supplies. A gas lamp hissed quietly above a stack of crates marked London Rubber Company. Cassandra grinned. No doubt a box full of Earl of Condom rubber goods.
A turn of the corner revealed a sparse but meticulously scrubbed examination room. Her mother held a cupped ear to the adjoining office wall.
“Cassie.” Dr. Olivia had a look of devilry about her. “Come have a listen.” She waved her closer. “Come. Come.”
She pressed affectionately up against her mother and cocked her head. Soft whimpers escalated into the most lurid moans as the unseen woman behind the wall continued to gasp and groan. With a surge of shock, she recognized the euphoric sighs of sexual intercourse as they passed through the plaster wall between surgeries.
Cassie shot upright. “Stanley Hargety is having an affair?” She had met Dr. Hargety and his wife several times at her parents’ home. There were rumors the man’s medical practice failed to prosper, and now this turn of events. She tried to hold back an uncharitable grin. “He hardly seems the Lothario type.”
Her mother snorted. “Did you have a look at the queue of women in the corridor? What a reversal of fortune! My colleague’s services are now very much in demand.” The moans grew louder and more frequent.
Cassie muffled a burst of laughter.
Olivia held a finger to her lips. “The paroxysm cometh.”
And it came in a bursting shriek followed by a nearly inaudible sigh. “Well, at least the lady’s hysteria is assuaged, thanks to Dr. Swift.”
More than curious, she followed her mother from the examination room to a small office in the rear of the suite. “Dr. Swift, you say? What happened to Dr. Hargety? And who is this Dr. Swift? Is the man properly licensed, Mother?”
Olivia tossed her a backward grin. “Dr. Swift is not a who, it’s a what, darling. A new electric vibration machine.”
Once inside the rumpled, comfortable office, her mother removed the kettle from a spirit-fuelled burner and filled the teapot. “Not long after I acquired this Bunsen burner, what did Stanley Hargety do? At great expense, he purchased himself a set of Leclanché cell batteries.”
Cassie clamped her lips together. She had read the scandalous advertisements in the back of women’s journals. An amused chortle rippled close to the surface. “Dear lord, he’s got himself a machine to relieve female hysteria.”
“The electric vibrator is also an effective treatment for arthritis, muscle spasms, and insomnia.” Olivia winked. “But a most profound cure for the over-excitable female. And what a boon to his practice. They’d come in twice a week if he could find the room to fit them in.”
“I take it not every lady is quite so expressive as this last patient?” She swept a few books off the corner of the desk so her mother could set down the tea tray.
“Lord no, although I have my theories.” Olivia shooed Baxter the cat off a well-worn wing chair. “Coincidental to his partnering with Dr. Swift, Stanley has suddenly shifted his practice to hospital half the week. I suspect an enthusiastic patient may have proved herself entirely too vocal for his posh Harley Street surgery.”
Cassie could not hold back the news a second longer. Her stomach fluttered with excitement. “I must tell you my solicitor wired wonderful news this morning. At my behest, a small but well-appointed town house edging on Belgravia has been let in my name.”
Olivia stopped short of biting into a lemon biscuit.
“Well, it’s about time, dear. No one will take greater pleasure than I to see you cast off those widow’s weeds and return to your painting. You have great talent. A gift from God—”
“Don’t squander it,” she recited along with her mother. “You’ll be pleased to know I have plans to show in London and Paris this year.” Cassie raised her chin. “I mean to concentrate on my art, and art alone.”
As shocking and cruel as her husband’s death had been, she had been given a reprieve of sorts, a chance to start life anew. “There will be no eager gentlemen callers complicating my ambitions this time.”
This time, she would remain steadfast to her aspirations. This time the thing she desired most in the world would be hers—to be worthy of the sobriquet “impressionist.” Mary Cassatt’s Child in a Straw Hat, Claude Monet’s Woman with a Parasol, Edgar Degas’s Dancers at the Bar. And Cassandra St. Cloud’s …? Lost in a world of brilliant color and swirling brushstrokes, she was barely aware of her mother’s ramblings.
“… and when word gets out the young widow has taken a residence of her own?”
“Yes. The presumption is I will take a lover.” Cassie shrugged. “Let them think what they wish.”
“Well.” Olivia grinned. “Libertas, Cassie! And when does this all take place?”
“I begin the move tomorrow. My dear companion, Aunt Esmie, leaves Rosslyn House for the countryside to care for an ailing sister.” Cassie set her cup down and beamed. “The timing is perfection itself, I shall make my escape from the in-laws.”
“After six months of marriage and two years of mourning, I would say so.” Mother’s eye roll was less than subtle, though her voice softened. “You have done your duty.”
A brief silence graced the room as the reality of Cassie’s break from her late husband’s family sank in. Sipping tea, Olivia gazed at her over a tipped cup. “I was pleased to know you recognized the sounds of sexual gratification, dear. I do hope that when Thom was alive he managed to show you some pleasure?”
She pressed her lips together. How Mother dearly loved to be shocking.
There really was only one way to answer one of Dr. Olivia Erskine’s social deportment salvos, as Father often referred to them. “Yes, Mama, he knew precisely the spot and what to do once he got there.” Not that the man had seen her in a state of bliss, much. Heat radiated from her throat to her cheeks but Cassie took a great deal of satisfaction in what appeared to be her mother’s generous approval.
Olivia smiled. “Ah, the magic power of a fine, gentle massage.”
Now and again, Cassie wondered what it might be like to have a retiring, reserved mother. She set down her cup. “I cannot think of another subject I would rather converse on, but I must be off to see Mr. Dowdeswell. I dropped off a folio of drawings last week, which he kindly offered to critique.”
“And how goes the gallery business? After that ridiculous show he gave Whistler.” Olivia clucked her tongue. “When I think of how bold your work is in comparison to that meek little portrait of his mother. I do hope Dowdeswell comes to his senses and offers you space.”
“All right, Mummy, shall we give him a go? Sit for me. Perhaps a reclining pose—Olivia in the Nude?”
Mother nearly choked on her biscuit. “I will say your father does admire my derriere.”
Cassie pulled on gloves. “Should you decide to retire from medicine, promise me you will never attempt artist representation. You’d make short work of the gallery owners on Bond Street.” She blew her mother a kiss as she left the room.
Copyright © 2012 by Jillian Stone --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
If you want a well written story, good plot, with a nice romance this is the book, try it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It was An Affair with Mr. Kennedy's cover that drew me in. It is quite beautiful. I also was really intrigued by the time setting of London 1887. I haven't actually read many Victorian romance novels and I have to say, I think I will look into reading more. I like that time period was a bit more technologically advanced than the Regency era. I also read a wonderful blog post (but I can't remember who's blog) where Cassie and Zak played the Newlywed Game. I loved them as a couple and their banter & chitchat made me want to know them more. So those are the direct reasons for me picking up and buying An Affair with Mr. Kennedy.
I loved the conversation and chemistry between Cassie and Zak. In fact that particular banter that I read on that blog was very accurate and I immensely enjoyed reading about the pair. I really liked Zak. He seemed so serious and a bit stiff at first but his wit made perfect appearances. I loved how frank he could be with Cassie and how she made him lose his proper self.
He exhaled. "I'm having wicked thoughts about you. Was that charming?"
"In a wolfish sort of way."
That charming bit of conversation happened just upon entering a packed ballroom. I loved it!
The interesting part of reading about 1887 is how the women's movement was much more advanced than my more normal reads of the Regency era. I got a really good taste of the how the women were making their way in the world. Cassie and her mother Dr. Oliva Erskine were women before their time. Cassie's mom was a respected doctor and at the beginning of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, Cassie is visiting the hospital where her mother, Dr. Erskine practices. They have a humourous conversation about how some women come to the hospital to get "treatments" from a vibrator. This treatment is to avoid madness. I was laughing but interestingly enough, I just watched on the history channel where that was an actual fact. Great research done by Jillian Stone.
Cassie and her friend ride bikes; in pantaloons no less! She smokes cigars and is a very modern artist with painting tasteful female nudes. I loved her directness and she was an excellent match for Zak. This independence that she carried herself with was also the downfall in the book for me but I'll explain that part in just one moment.
The story plot itself was a bit confusing for me. There was lots of political focus with Zak being a Scotland Yard officer and the case he was on. I admit to not "getting it". I didn't fully understand the whole Irish struggle and why all the bombings in London. Since that was the main plot of the story, I wish the author took a bit more time with explaining that part of the story. I am not sure if it was historically accurate and I am curious so I'll look it up.
I was also a bit disappointed that Zak is confronted with someone important to him from his past during his investigation and it really seemed to let me down. I wanted more from those few scenes.
I felt as a reader that many parts of the book was left up to the reader to make setting assumptions. It just jumped around for me. I felt I had to go back and re-read a few paragraphs to ensure that I had my bearings correct.
For example: there was an intense scene where Cassie is cornered in an art studio and all of a sudden she is on the platform. I am reading the paragraph and saying to myself, 'what platform?' So I had to go back and re-read the paragraphs and I have no idea where this platform came from or why it was significant. It really wasn't explained correctly so when I went back to read it, I had to envision the entire scene differently so that I could now place in this platform. This lost placement seemed to happen to me a lot.
Okay so now back to Cassie's independence and where An Affair with Mr. Kennedy all went wrong for me. I loved that Cassie was independent and strong and witty but why oh why when the story needs to advance to the next step, do authors sometimes proceed with this advancement at the cost of the making the heroine stupid! Why!?! Jullian Stone built Cassie up to be this modern bright women and just like that, she made her do stupid things. I want to list them all but it basically boils down her protests for having extra protection and her stubbornness. It is so obvious to everyone and even including her that she is in some danger. I wish with all my heart that this story was more about Cassie being smart and realizing that Zak is an experienced, well respected officer and she trusted his decisions. Then go ahead, have everything go wrong but at least she did the right thing. All her actions after she arrived in Paris (after being chased, kidnapped and shot at) was just stupid. Why would she go to an Art Gallery? Alone?
An Affair with Mr. Kennedy would have been a 5 star novel for me if the story would had advanced with Cassie being smart with her moves and decisions. Why build up Cassie to be such a strong women if only to make me dislike her and her weak decisions. I just don't get that line of reasoning. It was frustrating when all I wanted to do was like her so much.
Teasers: secret door opened, sexy champagne encounter, botched kidnapped, a roadster
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).
Jillian Stone delivers a Victorian heroine who is willing to take power in AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY. Cassandra St. Cloud discards her widow's weeds, leaves her aristocratic in-laws, and rents a townhouse owned by, and next to, Zeno Kennedy. Sexual tension ignites as they ride, walk, and dance their way to passion. Their liaison serves multiple purposes for Zeno - the primary being a cover to interact with Cassie's suspicious brother in law. Yet, Cassie sparks a light into his dreary life as a "Yard Man." Likewise, Cassie finds herself living the emotions (and adventures) that she often paints.
From page 1, Stone envelopes the reader in sophisticated dialogue that captures the charm of the Victorian Era and the awe of the Industrial Revolution. The author hits the mark as Cassie and Zero discover achievements in forensics and medicine. Stone also tackles social issues that are often overlooked in historical romances - women's rights, sexual freedom, and growing anarchy across Europe. AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY creates excitement in a modern reader to live first hand through the later years of the Victorian era as life becomes easier but also dangerous.
Highly recommend to readers who enjoy Amanda Quick, Sherlock Holmes, and even Downton Abbey (as Stone includes the events of the Victorian Era that shape the Edwardian Era).
I received an ARC from Pocket Books for this review.
I'm so glad I did. This was a refreshing change of pace from the Regencies (and even Victorians) with dukes or other tortured/wounded heroes/rakes of the peerage who need a beautiful woman to heal them. This book has a touch of the regular folk about it (well, kind of).
Hero Zeno Kennedy is ex-military, now a Scotland Yard detective. A rather well-off and very well-educated SY detective, who owns apartment buildings to rent out, probably making more income with them than with his salary as a detective. Heroine Cassie St. Cloud is the young widow of the late Thomas St. Cloud, who was Earl of Rosslyn, title now held by Gerald St. Cloud, Cassie's brother-in-law.
Zeno is investigating Irish revolutionaries and a possible ring of aristocrats involved in terrorist activities. Coincidentally, Cassie's brother-in-law seems to be involved and even more coincidentally Cassie is a new tenant of Zeno's. To further his investigations, Zeno furthers his acquaintance with Cassie. And we all know where that's going to lead, don't we?
There are more pros than cons to this HR. The time period is interesting, the Irish unrest is based in fact, the fictional characters are 3-dimensional, interesting, intelligent and likeable, the dialogue is excellent, the romance is warm and fuzzy and hot at the same time, and the writing is very good. I'm looking forward to the next book in this "Gentlemen of Scotland Yard" series.
The only "con" for me is that perhaps the main characters are a bit too liberal and liberated and forward-thinking for the time period (late Victorian), especially Cassie and her mother. But I'm very willing to let that slide in the enjoyment of the book as a whole. After all, there had to be real people like them at the time. Otherwise, how could we women have gotten to the more comfortable (yet not perfect) place we hold at the beginning of the 21st century?
All in all, this is a book well worth the read and the author is one to look out for.
An intriguing story that melds many historical details in an enjoyable tale of suspense and passion. There are interesting asides (such as the disturbing fact that some dreary painting of his mother allows the artist James Whistler to supplant Cassie's position in a gallery), a different look at the machinations of politics and the ease with which one can be coerced to support an opposing view, and glimpses of British society of the late 1800s. The secondary characters are also engaging and one certainly hopes to see more of Zak's able helpers as well as Cassie's eccentric and brilliant brother. A great start to an inventive series from a fresh new voice.
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