Formats available: ebook, hardcover, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, historical romance
Series: Ladies of Lantern Street, #2
Length: 385 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Date Released: April 23, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Under the plain gray skirts of Miss Beatrice Lockwood’s gown, a pistol waits at the ready. For Beatrice is a paid companion on a secret mission—and with a secret past—and she must be prepared to fight for her life at any moment.
Yet she is thrown oddly off guard by the fierce-looking man who joins her in foiling a crime outside a fancy ball—and then disappears into the shadows, leaving only his card. His name is Joshua Gage, and he claims to know Beatrice’s employers. Beyond that, he is an enigma with a hypnotically calm voice and an ebony-and-steel cane…
Joshua, who carries out clandestine investigations for the Crown, is equally intrigued. He has a personal interest in Miss Lockwood, a suspected thief and murderer, not to mention a fraudster who claims to have psychical powers. The quest to discover her whereabouts has pulled him away from his mournful impulses to hurl himself into the sea—and engaged his curiosity about the real Beatrice Lockwood, whose spirit, he suspects, is not as delicate as her face and figure.
He does know one thing, though: This flame-haired beauty was present the night Roland Fleming died at the Academy of the Occult. Guilty or not, she is his guide to a trail of blood and blackmail, mesmerism and madness—a path that will lead both of them into the clutches of a killer who calls himself the Bone Man…
There was both a mystery woman and a mystery man in this second installment of Amanda Quick’s Ladies of Lantern Street trilogy. I wouldn’t mind a bit if the owners of the Flint & Marsh Agency on Lantern Street found a few more operatives and kept this series going!
Beatrice Lockwood is very much the mystery woman. She starts out as Miranda the Clairvoyant of Dr. Fleming’s Academy of the Occult and ends by attempting to raise the dead. Needless to say, there is a LOT of story in the middle!
And even though Beatrice believes in the paranormal, and definitely has talent, she knows perfectly well that raising the dead is beyond anyone’s ability. But the madman pursuing her is convinced otherwise, and doesn’t care how many other corpses he has to make in order to reach her.
Yes, he’s a bit illogical about it. After all, he’s insane.
Meanwhile, Beatrice is in a bind. The madman is after her for her power. Joshua Gage is after her for much more mundane reasons. He starts out convinced that she’s blackmailing his sister over secrets she learned while posing as Miranda the Clairvoyant.
First, Bea is no blackmailer. Second, she learned no secrets. Third, Joshua has been misled into this case for all the wrong reasons. But someone made a mistake. Because Joshua realizes that while Bea may not be the blackmailer, she is the center of the case, and that they are stronger if they join forces.
Even though Joshua emphatically does not believe in the paranormal, their forces are very considerable. Especially once they realize that the most important thing they have discovered in this case is their need for each other.
But can they discover who is behind the madness before it is too late?
Escape Rating B+: The Mystery Woman was even better than Crystal Gardens (reviewed here). It didn’t have the weight of needing to explain the set up of the story, and the plot was stronger. There were more twists and turns to the mystery. It was much eerier and more diabolical.
Joshua’s story had a lot of depth. He underwent much more of a transformation. He starts the story having been in kind of retreat after a case went badly. This turns out to be the real heart of the story in The Mystery Woman. Joshua was an espionage agent for the government, and his mentor’s daughter as well as a fellow agent died on his last case. Joshua blames himself. He also injured his leg and uses a cane as a result.
Of course, it’s not that simple. The complications are what we learn in the story.
The Egyptology trappings are fascinating. There really was an Egyptology craze in England in the 19th century, so this part really works well!
That Bea not only has a paranormal talent but believes in the paranormal, where Josh has a talent but refuses to believe in anything remotely psychic provides for endless but entertaining banter. He represents the skeptic’s point of view marvelously.
But they not only fall in love, they accept each other. Which helps Josh to accept himself as he is now; injuries, scars and all. They each let go of their past identities so they can build a future together.
Bea does not raise the dead. But she and Josh do rise from the ashes of the past.