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Friday, December 3, 2010

The Bricklayer’s Helper by Amy Corwin

The Bricklayer’s Helper by Amy Corwin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (365 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Masquerades can lead to love…or murder.

Sarah has masqueraded as Sam, a bricklayer’s helper, for years. But her past catches up with her in London. A thirteen year-old fire, deliberately set to murder her family, is smoldering, and the killer intends to ensure there are no survivors.

Desperate, Sam turns to the renowned Second Sons agency for help.

Inquiry agent, William Trenchard, is both troubled and fascinated by Sam, and immediately suspects “he” is a “she.” Unfortunately, before William can discover what lies beneath the brick dust and sun-bleached hair, they are plunged into a maelstrom of deceit and murder.

After thirteen years of masquerading as a man, will Sarah be able to live as a woman again?

When a tragic fire robbed Sarah Sanderson of her family, she fled and assumed the identity of her brother Sam. Thirteen years later, she has a steady job working as a bricklayer. Though her life is hard, she is satisfied and remembers very little of her life before the fire. Unfortunately, someone has not forgotten her. Suddenly Sarah finds her life in danger. Desperate, she seeks the help of an inquiry agent, William Trenchard.

William is immediately intrigued by Sarah and soon discovers she is a woman. Even though she doesn’t have much to offer, he feels the need to protect her and takes the case. When another attempt is made on Sarah’s life, William realizes he uncovered a much larger mystery than he or Sarah ever imagined. Through it all, Sarah begins to have feelings for William. She finds herself wishing she knew more about being a woman. Could he ever love someone as sunburned and simple as her? William also finds himself falling in love with Sarah, but is acutely aware that when the case is solved, Sarah will resume her proper place in society, a place beyond his reach. Will their differences tear them apart or will they take charge of their own destinies?

Sarah was definitely an entertaining heroine. She certainly didn’t fit the mold of a rich aristocrat. Though her life is in danger, she’s not a damsel in distress. She is strong and stubborn and insists on taking an active part in attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the fire as well as the current attempts on her life.

Though Sarah can work as hard as any man, she has no idea how to behave around William once she realizes she’s fallen in love with him. While trying to figure out her feelings for William, Sarah also faces a tough choice. She can assume her rightful place in society as an aristocrat, but that would mean giving up the freedom she values when she lives as a man. Will Sarah have to choose between love and freedom? Can she find a way to have them both?

William is the perfect hero for Sarah. At first they seemed extremely mismatched. Sarah has led a simple and rough life, while William has led a privileged one. He also has a fondness for fine clothing. As a result, people tend to underestimate his abilities as an inquiry agent. Even Sarah doubts him when they first meet. However, beneath the velvet and gold is an intelligent and caring man who is more than a match for Sarah’s strong will.

Not only is The Bricklayer’s Helper a great romance, but it is also a wonderful blend of the historical and mystery genres. I found myself mulling over the clues when I wasn’t reading the book and trying to guess who the mastermind behind the fires might be. Ms. Corwin had me guessing right up until the end and I was genuinely surprised when the culprit was revealed.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bricklayer’s Helper. The characters were unique and the romance was sweet. Anyone who likes their romance wrapped in a mystery will definitely want to check out The Bricklayer’s Helper.