Desert Isle Keeper
Too Hot to Handel
Have you read any of the John Pickett Mysteries yet? If not, go back and find the first, In Milady’s Chamber and prepare to meet your new favorite Bow Street Runner. John Pickett and his lady love, Lady Julia Fieldhurst, have been dancing around each other for four books and two novellas, and finally the reader is rewarded for their patience. That’s not to say you can’t pick up just this one if you don’t want to read the whole series – there’s enough backstory built into the book to inform a new reader without boring an old – but why would you want to miss all the delightful John and Julia romance?
John and Julia have been waiting on their court date to get their accidental marriage annulled when John becomes involved in the investigation of a series of thefts. After an elaborate scheme involving following a Russian princess to the theater, using Lady Julia (at his boss’s recommendation) to stand out less, and then being trapped in the burning building, he is gravely injured after rescuing Julia. Concerned for his health, she finds a good samaritan to stay with him as she looks for a way to get him out of the crowd, and then decides not only to stay and nurse him back to health, but to figure out who or what injured him in the first place.
I am so glad that we finally get to see Julia shine. In the previous books, she’s taken a fairly active role in the investigations (or being investigated herself), and after spending time with John, she is finally getting herself out from under the thumb of her former husband’s family. It’s lovely to see her backbone shining through! And while she doesn’t always think things through, and definitely doesn’t have much knowledge in how the lower classes work, she’s smart, and is able to make connections between people and events much like John has in the previous stories.
Sadly we don’t get much of John, but this book is more about Lady Julia. It’s about her coming into her own as a woman, and proving to herself, as well as those around her, that she is strong and capable and smart. It’s about her coming to terms with her feelings towards John, and making a conscious decision about what she wants and what she will do.
My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed. We go from finding out the mastermind behind the thefts to them being caught in under 15 pages. While I certainly didn’t want the angst between John and Julia to be drawn out, and there was a lovely moment during the whole process between the two of them, I got to the last few pages and it just…ended. Luckily all the loose ends were tied up, for both the romance and the mystery, otherwise I would have been really upset!
Maybe this is my favorite book in the series because John and Julia are finally admitting feelings and working past their different standings. Maybe it’s because Julia takes the lead and proves her own worth in a way that was missing from the previous stories (she was part of the mystery, but always the sidekick). Who knows. But it doesn’t really matter because in the end, I simply loved it. And the author shared that there will be another book for the couple! I’m excited! Thank you, Ms. South, for not being done with these characters yet, because as a reader, I’m sure not.