In this new Regency charmer from the beloved, award-winning author Kate Moore, the clues to solving one of life’s greatest mysteries may be found in a slim blue volume of advice for husband-seeking debutantes. But two people engaged in a clever game of cat and mouse just might rewrite the book…
The daughter of a British intelligence agent, Jane Fawkener has spent most of her life in exotic lands abroad, not flirting her way to matrimony among the ton. So when her father disappears and is presumed dead, she’s perplexed as to why he’s arranged for her to receive a copy of The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London. Convinced he has hidden a covert message for her within its pages, Jane embarks on a “husband hunt” with an altogether different aim. But can she fool the government escort who’s following her every move—a dangerously seductive man for whom rules are clearly meant to be broken.
This was an interesting book, and not at all what I expected from the title. It is a solid historical mystery with a romance that develops at a good pace. Other than a couple of glaring Americanisms, Kate Moore – a prolific author I’m not actually familiar with – writes beautifully, and captures London beyond the ballrooms in such an interesting way.
I’m not one for historical romance series based on some gimmick (such as a husband hunting book), and so I went into this one with some trepidation. Usually these gimmicks that tie a series together end up being flimsy and silly and too modern, but I didn’t find that to be the case here at all (though I admit to being far more interested in the mystery than the “advice” from the book that opened every chapter).
The heroine has spent her adolescence and early twenties living in what is now Syria, with an English father who worked throughout the region of the old Silk Road. So she is a little bit different to the people of London, and uncomfortable with some of the ways of English society, after having lived in an Islamic, sex-segregated culture for so long. I think this was handled very well, and I liked all the little touches of the author’s research (and love that she used all the old names for the cities).
Other than a few too many references to her struggling with wearing bonnets, this was a “fish out of water” story that didn’t resort to anachronisms to make it work.
Somebody thinks the heroine knows too much about her allegedly dead father’s spy work in Asia, and for most of the book they are trying to get to her. This mild suspense aspect takes us through the parts of London we don’t see in a lot of Regency romances, which I loved. This section of the plot is also the main focus of the book – over the husband hunting stuff.
The Americanisms? It’s AUTUMN and never – ever – “the fall”. And it’s OFF, and never “off of”.
This was one of those books that wasn’t perfect, but was a little different, making it such an interesting read.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.