by Amanda Quick
Series: Ladies of Lantern Street #2
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Historical Romance, Mystery
Beatrice Lockwood, one of the intrepid ladies of Lantern Street, is in the middle of a case when her past comes back to haunt her. Joshua North, a former spy for the Crown, has come out of a self-imposed retirement after a disastrous case that left him scarred and forced to use a cane. He is hunting the villain who is blackmailing his sister. The trail leads him to Beatrice who is his chief suspect. But when he realizes that she is not the blackmailer they set out to find the real extortionist. Passion flares between them as they dodge a professional assassin. Meanwhile a mysterious scientist intent on resurrecting his dead lover using an ancient Egyptian formula for preserving the bodies of the dead is also hunting Beatrice. He is keeping his dead love perfectly preserved in a special, crystal-topped sarcophagus filled with the special fluid. But he needs Beatrice's paranormal talent to activate the reviving properties of the preservative in the coffin. Time is running out for everyone involved. The two cases collide at a mysterious country-house filled with artifacts from ancient Egyptian tombs. The drama concludes in the mad scientist's laboratory where Joshua discovers that the past he thought was dead is still very much alive -- sort of.
Can I just have a fangirl moment? Squee! This is one of my favorite authors and one whom I would love to meet and share a coffee with. Amanda Quick is one of Jayne Anne Krentz’s pen names and the other is Jayne Castle. I adore her books in all three genres; historical, contemporary and futuristic. The Mystery Woman is the second book in the Ladies of Lantern Street and Quick truly delivered. The tale is filled with spies, mystery, romance and danger all wrapped in a little paranormal woo-woo. Set in historical London I quickly slid into the world and its characters. Three-word review: Suspenseful, romantic, captivating.
The Ladies of Lantern Street work for a private investigation company and its employees are mostly female. These trained women often disguise themselves as companions as they solve cases and protect a young woman. Beatrice Lockwood is on the case to protect a young lady from a fortune hunter when she encounters Joshua North, a former spy for the crown. He assists her and then informs her he has been searching for her. Beatrice has a secret past and it’s all about to catch up with her when she is suspected of blackmail and murder. When Joshua interviews her, he quickly realizes all is not as it seems and together the two must find the blackmailer and stop a madman.
The ladies of Lantern Street are bright, feisty and witty. They each possess some kind of paranormal talent and I found them fascinating. Beatrice is clever and her ability to see emotional footprints and access situations were believable and interesting. Her fiery red hair matches her witty and sometimes snarky personality. Joshua North has been recovering from injuries he suffered during his last case. He has been melancholy and suffers from both physical scars and emotional ones due to the accident. He is tall, angular and while not classically handsome his strong presence draws the female eye. Meeting Beatrice and working this case has given him a new vigor for life. The banter and slow building romance was quite good and I found myself rooting for them. The mad scientist and his obsession with an ancient Egyptian formula added suspense to the tale. The assassin was positively creepy and learning about him as he pursued them was quite fun. We briefly see the other ladies of Lantern Street and their employers. I enjoy this group and I am looking forward to more tales.
One of the things I love about Quick (Krentz) is that she knows how to spin a captivating tale. She carefully weaves all of the threads together at a beautiful pace that allows the reader to completely immerse themselves in the world and characters. Time and time again she gives me that book high I so desperately chase. I found the mystery and Beatrice’s part in it quite clever and the mix of Egyptian mythology added to the paranormal woo-woo of this tale and felt genuine. There were quite a few twists in the mystery and while a part of me suspected, it wasn’t until close to the end that I was sure. The romance was splendid, built slowly and had moments of humor and sweetness. We do get a little heat and it was hot but discreetly done. Each of these books contains one mystery and one romance and I look forward to the next ladies story.
I highly recommend The Mystery Woman to fans of historical romantic suspense and mystery wrapped in paranormal woo-woo. Crystal Gardens was the first book in this series, and the third is expected in 2014. Amanda Quick is on my auto-buy list and I’ve read almost everything written by Jayne Anne Krentz and her pseudonyms.
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