Desert Isle Keeper
At Your Service
If you’re looking for an exciting and humorous mystery, a bit of adventure, an older-couple romance, and aren’t squeamish about blood and bruises then At Your Service should definitely be on your to-read list. The hero is a Daniel Craig type of James Bond figure and the heroine is a self-assured, smart and competent woman who finds herself in possession of a sudden fortune until the mystery of its appearance unravels piece by piece in a life-altering way.
Mae Valentine and Major Kitt have an unusual relationship. Mae is Kitt’s butler, housekeeper, and cook, a steady, competent figure Kitt comes home to, weary and battered from his regular missions as a Risk Assessment Specialist that often take him to dangerous locations. Mae is also Kitt’s landlord as they share adjoining townhouses and he rents his property from her. Sometimes they meet up as employee/employer and sometimes as landlord/tenant but always with a friendly if reserved demeanor. She calls him Sir and he calls her Mae and that’s just the way of things. Mae’s seen an array of attractive women pass through Kitt’s quarters but she’s still grieving her husband Caspar who died in a traffic accident sixteen years earlier and has no interest in Kitt romantically, nor he in her (or so it appears).
Mae has recently received word that Caspar had a trust fund worth millions and that she stands to inherit it. The gentleman who works at the bank has expressed a romantic interest in Mae and and invites her to dinner. But when she gets stood up at the restaurant it’s Major Kitt who comes to her rescue as he also happens to be dining there, and he offers to escort her home. In a shocking turn of events on their way to their cars, Mae is violently mugged, and her purse stolen; and while Kitt does go after the culprits, they escape. In short order, Mae discovers that the date that stood her up has been murdered, and to top it off, someone who claims they are from the bank tries to kill her. The money and its provenance are the key to the mystery of why people seem determined to remove her from her tidy life, and with Kitt’s help they work to unravel the clues, first at home in England and then in Sicily where her dead husband is from. With danger at every turn, will they live to solve the mystery? And can they possibly get their own happy ever after when all the secrets between them come out?
If a story can be called a cozy mystery despite lots of blood and a few rather gruesome deaths then that’s how I’d classify this one, with a rather sweet romance mixed in the middle of all the mess. Mae ends up in one disturbing situation after another, with no real hint of where things are going at the start. Major Kitt is a godsend but also a mystery. It’s apparent soon enough that his job is a cover for something else, and in Sicily things start to really heat up, both in the revelations and in the romance. Being in close quarters has never been an issue for them before, but Kitt’s protective nature and his desire to keep Mae close stirs feelings in her long dormant. Kitt’s got that kind of ugly-handsome face that for some reason attracts women and though she knows that commitment is clearly out of his comfort zone, it doesn’t stop her from giving in to temptation and taking him up on his offer of sex for sex’s sake. And it’s good and fulfilling, and reminds Mae of what she’s been missing.
But then things turn on their heads again when more is revealed. Are the good guys really the good guys? Are the bad guys really bad? There’s more than one agenda at work and for Mae to keep her head requires all her wits while she figures out who she can really trust. At one point I wasn’t sure how it could possibly work out to a happy ending but it does, and in the nick of time. The scenes in Italy are my favorite, not for the bloody parts but for the vicarious enjoyment of the countryside and the tidbits of information an armchair tourist like myself delights in reading. It’s also a treat to have a couple over forty (and Mae is a few years older than Kitt) – who’ve been around the block and know what really matters in life – come together and find their path to a second chance at romance. At Your Service is a fast paced and engaging romantic mystery that will keep you well entertained.
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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
|Review Date:||November 8, 2018|
|Book Type:||Romantic Suspense|
|Review Tags:||In Service series | Italy | older couple | older heroine | romantic mystery | spy|
I loved this book. Great to have over 40s…James Bond style capers ( though I intentionally didn’t see Kitt as a Daniel Craig look a like), fantastic romance and one liners and a good old twist at the end. It was just great fun and took me away from all the day to day chores of life. And Sicily is now on the future holidays list.
I read this book because of the review, and I am so happy I took the time to read this review or I never would have found this book or this author. I loved this book and really hope there is going to be a sequel or possibly even a series as the main couple are so fabulous. Of particular appeal is a 40-something couple who are attractive and attracted to each other. I know so many 40-something women and men who are finding their forties to be their best years, and so it is a sad phenomenon in romance writing that nearly the entire genre is reduced to younger characters, especially female protagonists. I loved the banter and the wit, and I loved the knowing introspection that comes from life experiences as Kitt and Mae explore the possibilities of a budding romance. It is a surprisingly violent book and is also quite action packed too, but the relationship is what kept me flying through it. What an unexpected pleasure to find this book at the very end of the year. Thanks, Maria Rose!
Thank you so much Blackjack! It’s always a pleasure to have someone appreciate a review!
Appreciated the rec, Maria Rose. Just finished this today.
The pluses: the author’s above-average writing style, which I enjoyed, and the fact that MCs were older and had some smart banter between them
The minuses: Not enough romance for me. (Well, that’s romantic suspense for you.) Too many unnecessary violent events, especially wherein Mae is beaten to within an inch of her life but manages to hang on, only so that she can walk naively right into the next violent event (to be once again almost killed). For me, her lack of common-sense precautions or wariness strained credulity at times. Oh, and the ending itself, when all is explained and revealed, was disappointing, considering what Mae and to some extent Kitt were put through. Finally, I could not picture either protagonist as I read, and this was a problem for me. How do I picture intimacy between the H/h if I can’t visualize what they look like? (In the Afterward, yes, the author explains that Kitt is supposed to look like a Daniel Craig “handsome-ugly” man. Wish she’d have stated that in chapter 1, though.) Ideas of what Kitt might look like came and went; I never had a really good bead on Mae.
So, it was just an “okay” read for me.
I definitely had Craig in my mind when I read the initial description of the delightful Major; now I just have to picture Mae
Thanks for the review, I’m enjoying this so far
At Your Service is hands down delightful. It reminded me of the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade because of all the switcheroos. Plus enjoying a Daniel Craig-type super spy tripped up by his inconvenient adoration of a definitely non-Bond girl was all kinds of fun. Mae the butler is witty, feisty, endearing and fiercely competent in her own right. I love snappy dialog and in At Your Service is dazzles. On top of that, Antonelli is a smashing good writer. You can read this one fast for a great story, then once again to find all the Easter eggs tucked lovingly away throughout. And the romance. I loved these lovers. I hope more readers discover the gem that Antonelli is with this book.
This sounds great!
I’ve heard good things about this book. Think it’s probably time I read it!