Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: The Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn deHart

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Drew Foster has been released from prison, no longer the prime suspect of Scotland Yard, but, while Drew is a free man, he is not free of the whispers of society, who still believes he is guilty of being Jack the Ripper. Eager to prove his innocence, he accepts Scotland Yard's offer to take on the Ripper case -- knowing that there is a link between him and the real Jack the Ripper; knowing there is a reason why the Ripper chose to frame him.

Anna is Simon Jacob's sister and is a student at the Women's Doctors Hospital. She didn't like Drew the first time she met him, believing him to be arrogant, but, with Simon being sent to Scotland for an assignment (really a punishment for not catching the real Ripper), Drew turned to her for counsel and assistance with the case.

He might possess the most astonishing good looks she had ever encountered, but physical perfection meant nothing. He was merely a man. A rude and terrible man who had let down her brother ...
- Chapter 1

This is the second book in Robyn deHart's Dangerous Liaisons/Jack the Ripper series and focus turns to Drew, who was arrested on suspicion for being The Ripper and now has to prove his innocence to society -- who know him as a drunk and dissolute lord, but Drew has changed. His stay in prison has showed him the error of his ways, but it is still an uphill battle to gain the world's acceptance of him. One way for him to hasten this is to catch the actual Ripper.

I will admit that I read this story more for the Jack the Ripper mystery than for the romance. It is fascinating how deHart has taken fixed points in Ripper history and added her own interpretation of it. I especially enjoyed her theory of the copycat Ripper and who she thought it would be. (It could be true...)

She provides more clues to Jack the Ripper:
1. He is a gentleman. Maybe a lord. With an estate in Scotland.
2. He is connected to the Queen of England.
3. He seems to have some medical training because of the very precise way he murdered those women (but he isn't a doctor).
4. He wasn't acquainted with the copycat and was actually annoyed that he was being copied.

I loved Anna as a heroine. She was part of a group of women who were ahead of their time, studying to be doctors -- and Anna possessed a great talent for it, which Drew needed as he tried to interpret the clues that the Ripper left behind.

Beyond the focus on the Ripper, this is also Drew's story of redemption, and I loved that the author doesn't sugar-coat or gloss over it, but, instead, gives us a glimpse inside the mind and heart of a man who continues to struggle with his addiction. It is heroic the way Drew tries to control his urges and it is heroic how Drew tries to face society -- a society that still believes he is guilty.

He would have liked a drink. But that would only prove Anna Jacobs's low opinion of him, for he was sure he had not impressed her. She, on the other hand, had impressed him, mightily.
- Chapter 1

* * *

It would be in the newspapers by now. Jack the Ripper's return. All the while Drew was free on the streets, and he wondered if people would once again believe it was him who was slicing up those poor girls.
- Chapter 7

Anna and Drew work well together, despite her initial reservations. Drew isn't ashamed to admit if he needs help and isn't too proud to seek Anna's assistance, though I worried for Anna's safety a few times... I like that love grows gradually between them and seems to be rooted in admiration and mutual respect --

Is this a romance story with a bit of Jack the Ripper or is this a Jack the Ripper story with a bit of romance? I think it's tricky to balance something as massive and loaded as Jack the Ripper with a love story and, it was great that deHart decided not to force the issue and allowed the love story to be a subtle thing. The contrast accomplished its purpose and both stories were able to thrive side by side, without overpowering each other. My one problem with this story is how the love story ended: it seemed a bit abrupt and happens at a very strange time (Chapter 31). When it was resolved, I got the impression that the investigation that was once their top priority was all but forgotten.

Still, this was a very engrossing mystery and my question still stands: will deHart reveal who she believes was Jack the Ripper? Can't wait for the next installment!

To find out more about Robyn deHart and her books, click below:


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