Detective Rafe Lewis has made a name and place for himself in Scotland Yard. He's trust-worthy and capable and very, very good at his job. Normally, Rafe doesn't hesitate or blink when he is given an assignment: his current one requires him to pose as a molly boy -- but, when Zeno Kennedy gives him a new assignment, Rafe blinks not just once or twice.
A series of gruesome murders has led Scotland Yard to suspect that there is a conspiracy afoot and they have determined that the next target would be Francine Greyville-Nugent. Rafe has been assigned to go to Scotland to protect Miss Greyville-Nugent and to discover clues to the person or persons involved in the crime.
Problem #1: Rafe hadn't been back in Scotland since he left many years ago.
Problem #2: Rafe is estranged from his family in Scotland.
Problem #3: The reason for his estrangement is his broken engagement to Francine Greyville-Nugent.
But a Yard Man does what a Yard Man needs to do.
Neither Rafe nor Fran thought much of Scotland Yard's theory -- but when they discover that Fran's father's death wasn't an accident and when natty blokes start appearing, Rafe and Fran have no choice but to run for their lives.
This story is very action-oriented, which made for quick page-turning -- the characters could barely catch their breath before a new threat rises up and our hero and heroine are on the run again. The action scenes were done very well and were well-choreographed and written. But I had a hard time connecting with the characters because they were so busy moving. I didn't think their relationship had a chance to develop.
The few moments that Fran and Rafe had the chance to re-discover their love were fun and well-written. Fran's a strong character and she didn't mope or pine after Rafe but continued with her life. (And she's running the company her father left behind!)
"I don't believe ... you have enough imagination ... to conceive of how much I'd like to ... to ..." She shoved him off.
He swept back a lock of hair and brushed his thumb across her lower lip. "To what?"
In the twilight, her eyes narrowed to slits. "Box your ears."
"Well, I for one would like to kiss yours." He dipped his head, but the last second she pushed him away.
Rafe studied a few bright stars in the evening sky. He placed his hands on his hips and nodded. "All right, Fran. If it will do you good, have at me."
She punched him in the jaw and his head snapped back.
- p. 192
I didn't think this was as focused as Stone's debut but this book has its own merits: the reasons behind the series of murders was very interesting and I loved the mastermind and his backstory. Stone presents both sides of progress/technology/development in an objective and balanced manner -- and it gives readers a chance to ponder the real cost of progress.
"This strange disease of modern life with its sick hurry, its divided aims."
- Matthew Arnold as quoted in p. 338
Lastly, I love how Jillian Stone is building on her stable of characters. She has caught my interest and captured my imagination with her description of the Yard Men. When I finished reading this book, I found myself looking at the next installations in the series.
She recently released an e-novella, A Lesson in Chemistry with Inspector Bruce and A Private Duel with Agent Gunn -- and I'm really looking forward to reading them. ^_^
A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis is the second book in Jillian Stone's The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. To find out more about Jillian Stone and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.