The Mystery Woman
I have read a few of Amanda Quick’s Arcane Series books and while entertaining, those paranormal historicals were just above average for me. I have always preferred her straight historical romances. This second book in her Ladies of Lantern Street was a much better paranormal and just barely missed DIK status.
Beatrice Lockwood is making her way in the world as Miranda the Clairvoyant when disaster strikes. Her mentor and employer is murdered and Beatrice is almost caught by the assassin as well. Forced to flee for her life, she ends up on Lantern Street working for Abigail Flint and Sara Marsh at the Flint and Marsh Agency. At first glance, this agency appears to place employees as governesses and companions, but they are in truth a quasi-detective agency. When the book opens, Beatrice is attempting to protect a debutante from the clutches of a fortune hunter. After another companion spills gin on her dress, Beatrice’s distraction almost allows the fortune hunter to succeed in abducting her charge. A man of mystery saves the day and Beatrice’s job.
Joshua Gage is a man in torment. For years he was one of England’s premier spies, renowned for his ability to find his man (or woman). A misstep on his part caused the death of a young woman he was infatuated with as well as causing him severe physical injuries. For nearly a year he has closed himself off from the world, unable to dig himself out of his deep depression. When his sister Hannah is blackmailed, he is forced out of retirement to protect his family. The key to finding the blackmailer appears to be the mysterious Miranda the Clairvoyant. It does not take Joshua long to discover that Miranda is actually Beatrice Lockwood.
Joshua bases all of his decisions on cold, clear logic. He is both exasperated and disbelieving of any psychic talent and thinks Beatrice is a fraud. Beatrice is equally convinced that Joshua’s ability to find things is due to an unacknowledged paranormal talent. Despite their differences the two begin to trust one another and form a partnership to catch a blackmailer.
Beatrice and Joshua are really good together as a team. They are both strong and independent people and Beatrice is extraordinarily pragmatic despite her psychic past. Joshua carries an almost insurmountable burden of guilt for the death of Emma as well as that of former spy and friend Clement Langley. The disaster that cost the lives of two of his friends also cost him the regard of his mentor and father figure Victor Hazelton. Joshua is determined to complete this job for his sister and retire once more. Unfortunately, he did not count on his growing attachment to Beatrice. Soon, his aims are less about the blackmailer and more about protecting Beatrice’s life. As Joshua and Beatrice play cat and mouse with a Russian assassin, the danger they find themselves in raises their passions to heights too high to ignore.
My only quibble with this book is the ending. Characters from the first book in the series, Crystal Gardens, are brought into the narrative, but there is precious little explanation concerning who they are. Just adding an additional paragraph or two to explain their backstory would have elevated this book to DIK status for me. But that is just MY quibble and had I read the first book, it may not have caught my attention. When I read books out of order, it is nice if characters from other books are fleshed out just enough to pique my curiosity about their story. However, overall this was a great read and I would heartily recommend it.