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.