by Amanda Quick
Genres: Historical Romance
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Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials. Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve. But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker...
‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick is a standalone historical romantic suspense with delightful characters and a Whodunit that kept me flipping the pages. Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz) has long been a favorite author and an auto buy for me. Her richly detailed stories always deliver and ‘Til Death Do Us Part was an exceptional mystery.
Five reasons to grab ‘Til Death Do Us Part
- Amanda Quick is a masterful storyteller with delightfully unique characters and her historical mysteries always offer unexpected twists. I delight in gathering the clues and holding my breath when the hero and heroine face down danger. In ‘Til Death Do Us Part, Quick surprised me with the reveal and I friggin’ love when that happens.
- Quick has a way with her characters and such was the case with Calista Langley and Trent Hastings. Calista and her younger brother Andrew inherited a sizeable estate in town, but sadly are house poor. Needing a way to secure income she began an Introduction agency and hosts parties in her saloon. I liked Calista. She has a head for business and delights in offering a safe gathering place for singles to meet. She is level-headed and is very careful to protect her reputation. Trent Hastings is a bit of a reclusive after a terrible accident scarred one side of his face and body. He is also a mystery writer whose stories are the talk of London. When his sister begins attending Calista’s saloons he feels obligated to check things out, and upon meeting Calista he finds himself intrigued. Secondary characters in the form of siblings, suspects and servants offered side threads that were strong and entertaining. Quick made each character memorable and I quickly became caught up in their world.
- The mystery was both macabre and suspenseful. Calista is receiving gifts meant for someone in deep mourning. The gifts include a black mirror, funeral wreath, jar to catch and hold tears, and the newest a ring with a black stone. All of the gifts come with a note, “’til death do us part” and each engraved with her initials. The whole plot had a very gothic tone to it. Hastings becomes involved when he visits Calista as she returns home with her newest gift. It has unnerved Calista and it quite alarms Hastings.
- The romance is slow to develop but filled with banter, a touch of snark, tender moments and delicious heat that had me smiling. Despite his physical imperfections, Trent made a wonderful hero. He was smart, protective and very much like the detective in his stories. Both are a little odd, a little damaged and their chemistry felt genuine.
- Secondary characters, the death trinkets and twists in this clever mystery allowed me to devour ‘Til Death Do Us Part in two sittings. From beginning to end, the story was well paced delivering a mix of dangerous moments and delightfully intimate moments with the characters. I enjoyed how balanced all the threads were and how controlled Quick was with the mystery. One of the things that made me laugh throughout the story was Londoners critiquing Hastings newest mystery book. Each week a new chapter releases in the paper before the book is bound in a book. It is one of many clever things Quick added to the story, which gave it depth and fleshed out the characters.
‘Til Death Do Us Part delivered a suspenseful page turner with wonderful characters that is sure to delight fans old and new. Read the excerpt below to sneak a peek at one of my favorite authors…
Read an Excerpt
He was locked inside a cage the size and shape of a coffin. A dark thrill heated his blood like a powerful, intoxicating drug.
When the time came he would purify the woman and cleanse himself with her blood. But tonight was not the time. The ritual had to be followed correctly. The woman must be made to comprehend and acknowledge the great wrong that she had done. There was no finer instructor than fear.
He huddled inside the concealed lift, listening to the sounds of someone moving about in the bedroom on the other side of the wall. There was a narrow crack in the paneling. Excitement sparked through him when he caught a glimpse of the woman. She was at her dressing table, adjusting the pins in her dark brown hair. It was as if she knew he was watching and was deliberately taunting him.
She was passable in appearance, but he had seen her on the street and had not been particularly impressed with her looks. She was overly tall for a woman and her forceful character was etched on her face. She was dangerous. It was all there in her unnerving eyes.
The woman rose from the dressing table chair and moved out of sight. A moment later he heard the muffled sound of the bedroom door opening and closing.
He slid the cage door aside and opened the wooden panel. The wall sconce had been turned down low but he could make out the bed, the dressing table, and the wardrobe.
He moved out of the lift. The heady exhilaration he always experienced at such moments roared through him. With every step of the ritual he came closer to achieving his own purification.
For a precious few seconds he debated where to leave his gift. The bed or the dressing table?
The bed, he decided. So much more intimate.
He made his way out through the tradesmen’s entrance and slipped, unseen, into the gardens. The gate was still unlocked, just as he had left it.
A few minutes later he was lost in the fog. The weight of the knife in its sheath beneath his greatcoat was reassuring.
The ritual was almost complete.
The woman with the unnerving eyes would soon understand that she belonged to him. It was her destiny to be the one to cleanse him. He was certain of it. The connection between them was a bond that could be shattered only by death.
Posted by arrangement with Berkley Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Jayne Ann Krentz, 2016.