This is a fun Victorian romance with a twisty murder mystery. Calista and her brother inherited a big, fancy house, but they don’t have the means to keep it running. For income, Calista holds weekly salons where like-minded people might meet each other. It’s not a matchmaking service, and she’s definitely not setting innocent young women in the paths of predatory men. However, if some attendees happen to fall in love, all the better.
Trevor’s sister attends these salons, and he thinks they’re a bunch of malarky, so he sets out to investigate. While he’s eventually convinced that Calista’s business is legit, he also discovers that Calista is being targeted with creepy gifts, and Trevor takes it upon himself to help her.
Here’s something that’s cool: Trevor is a writer. His main character is a detective, and Trevor himself has picked up several interesting talents under the umbrella of “research,” such as lock picking, cane fighting, and surveillance. Not to mention his connections to underground criminals. Trevor is also not ashamed to “Don’t you know who I am?” his way into places.
Calista is more than a helpless maiden. Not only did she create a thriving business to keep her and her brother out of poverty, but she also has a strong investigative sense, bravery, and knowledge that the world is full of unsavory characters.
The mystery is strong enough to keep you guessing, and the dead bodies pile up. Additionally, I learned a lot about the death business. Victorians were way into memento mori, or trinkets of death, like tear catchers, stationary with black edging, and special rings to put on a corpse that attach to a bell, just in case the dead person isn’t really dead. How great was their fear of being buried alive that those coffin bells existed?
The romance is borne out of dramatic events, like so:
“The desire to embrace you is probably a result of the recent shock to my nerves.”
“You certainly know how to take the romance out of the moment, Calista.”
There wasn’t enough gut-wrenching romance for my taste, but that’s because this is more of a mystery than romance. Still, it was a lot of fun, and very funny. Trevor’s latest novel introduces a female character, and random people throughout the book give him their opinion: “It’s all very well to insert a woman into the plot but we don’t want Clive Stone to get sidetracked with a romance. It will ruin the series.” I mean, isn’t that almost every man’s opinion on the internet? Genius.
Amanda Quick has a breezy writing style with a healthy amount of humor and inside jokes. This book should suit just about anyone.
Rating: B for romantic sexytimes, A- for everything else.
Click to purchase: Amazon
‘Til Death Do Us Part
by Amanda Quick
Release Date: April 19, 2016