Someone to Watch Over Me
There was a lot I liked about Lisa Kleypas’s new historical romance Someone To Watch Over Me starting with the hero’s profession. He was a Bow Street Runner. These were the predecessors of the bobbies. The Bow Street Runners were more like detectives than real policemen, and they worked on a fee and reward basis.
Grant Morgan is one of the most successful of the Runners. He has collected a number of large rewards, mostly from banks, and has become a very wealthy man. His exploits are also the subject of several penny-dreadful books, much to his disgust but to the delight of his servants who collect them behind his back. One evening he is called by a Thames waterman who has found the body of a woman floating in the river. The woman is unconscious, not dead, and has been strangled and then hit over the head. Grant recognizes her as Vivien Duvall, one of London’s most elegant courtesans. Grant takes her to his house until she regains consciousness and then he will question her and try to find out who attempted to murder her and why.
The young woman wakes up and can’t remember a thing. She is suffering from amnesia. Even though this woman looks exactly like Vivien Duvall, she behaves in ways that a spoiled courtesan would not. She makes her bed and tidies her room. She is polite to the servants and even attempts to dress herself. When Grant talks to her, he is baffled. He knew Vivien and this woman acts nothing like her. She has an air of sweetness and innocence about her and is not haughty and spoiled like Vivien. When Grant shows her Vivien’s diary, she is horrified and protests that she could never do anything like that, and her protests have a ring of truth about them. Also, when she goes into Grant’s library, she is enchanted by the books and remembers and quotes passages from them. Vivien has never been known to even open a book. So who is this woman with Vivien Duvall’s face and why did someone try to kill her?
Even though there was no big mystery here (I figured it out early in the book), I enjoyed watching Grant try to solve it. The story was good, though not exceptional, but it was the characters who enchanted me. I loved Grant Morgan. He had been an orphan and achieved his wealth through hard work. He pretends that he is only in his position for the money and rewards it can bring him, but underneath it, he is driven by a passion for justice and hates cruelty in all its forms.
The heroine is a dear. She is brave and kind and very intelligent. She never goes off and does anything stupid, although toward the end she does do something foolish – not stupid, just foolish (and she was under duress at the time). I especially liked the way Kleypas showed that the characters began falling in love with each other because of shared interests. It was not a case of victim falling for her rescuer. Grant comes to realize that this woman is everything he has ever wanted in a wife and she sees the idealistic heart he hides under a mercenary exterior. And how can you not love two characters who both love to read?
Vivien and Grant made me fall in love with them. Author Kleypas writes wonderful characters and provides distinctive stories for them. In this particular instance, the characters were stronger than their story, but this is still a recommended read.