Not So Innocent
Sophie Haversham is an impoverished gentlewoman who can sometimes see the future in her dreams. This time, she has seen an image of a violent murder that she wants desperately to prevent, but when she goes to the police to report her vision, Sophie discovers that the victim she foresaw is none other than one of the detectives taking down her statement – Inspector Mick Dunbar. Brawny and handsome, Mick is a dedicated cop who has risen quickly in the ranks and likes both his facts and his life neat and orderly. Yet, despite the fact that he doesn’t believe her story for one second, he takes down the pertinent information, including the location where the murder will occur. When later that same evening an attempt is made on his life in the very location Sophie foresaw, he immediately decides Sophie is either the guilty party or protecting the same.
To keep an eye on her as either a suspect or material witness, Mick decides to rent a room from Sophie’s slightly batty Aunt Violet with whom she lives. The other four boarders who live in the house with them are all rather eccentric and they all know Sophie to be the Real Deal. But Mick isn’t buying any of it. It doesn’t help that Sophie can’t turn her powers off-and-on at will, so she can’t convince him of her powers simply by predicting the winners of the next horse race. Although Mick quickly comes to the conclusion that Sophie is innocent and her alibi checks out, he figures the murderer must be someone she knows. Who is Sophie protecting?
Mick has no qualms about prying into the life of everyone else in the house, including going through their rooms in the effort to find a connection. Inevitably, he does discover some dirty secrets, but not the ones he came to find. And the longer he stays, the more he is drawn to Sophie, who is attractive and unflinchingly honest and protective of those she loves. But she has many all-too-perceptive and disturbing insights into his past and his character. Could she perhaps actually be psychic? Before he can make up his mind, Sophie has another violent vision in his presence and they race off to try to prevent another murder.
The sexual tension between these two is high. Mick is no gentleman by either birth or breeding and has been quite a womanizer in his past and Sophie has been sexually aware of him since he frisked her for weapons the first evening after the attempt on his life. What’s more, at times she can read his mind and she knows that he desires her – a welcome change from the shy retiring virgins in some novels who seem unaware and ignorant of sex altogether. Sophie is also convinced that no man will ever want to marry her (having already been jilted once when her fiancé discovered her psychic abilities), leading her to eventually give in to her desires and have an affair with Mick. Their scenes together are hot and passionate in ways that stem directly from their characters and are, Therefore, all the more believable and enjoyable.
I liked these characters and was drawn into the mystery element of the plot. Who was trying to kill Mick and why? But the ending to the mystery was just short of satisfying. Although we were introduced to the character before and, perhaps, if we were perceptive enough we could have identified who the murder was, we aren’t given any hints as to why until the very end. As far as the romance went, I was convinced of their attraction to one another and their developing love, especially on Sophie’s side. I felt that the proposal scene was one of the more romantic ones I have read. This scene was not sappy or syrupy, but was instead very touching and heartwarming in his choice of engagement gifts for her.
In some ways the book felt too short. Mick’s childhood and how it formed his adult character are alluded to, but never much developed. We see Sophie’s family and understand how trying her mother and sister are and why she would want to live with her aunt, but her mother and sister remain cardboard cut-outs to the end. Many of the boarders at Aunt Violet’s house are given interestingly shady backgrounds, presumably to keep us unsure as to exactly who the murderer might be, yet these tantalizing glimpses are never fleshed out. It is somewhat unsatisfying that other than Mick and Sophie, none of the other characters ever change or learn anything more about each other.
It’s all these little flaws that render this a B+ rather than a DIK. Certainly Not so Innocent is a very good read. Featuring an intriguing mystery, a heartwarming romance, and a smart, likable, and sexy couple, just about the worst I can say about Guhrke’s book is that I wanted more.