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Friday, April 24, 2009

Suspicion of Love by Candace Morehouse

Suspicion of Love by Candace Morehouse
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

At the turn of the century, society is undergoing massive change and Creighton Jacqueline Brooks is prepared to make changes of her own. After receiving inheriting a share in a London detective agency, Jacqueline jumps at the chance to forgo marriage and delve into an exciting career.

British solicitor and partner, Stephen Haversham, is none too keen on playing babysitter to the frumpy American. But after sharing close quarters with Jacqueline, and working with her on a high profile murder case, Stephen can’t deny his attraction for his intelligent and crafty partner.

After helping to get handsome Lord Derby acquitted of murder, Jacqueline must decide between her heart and her head – a choice for love between her poor partner or the wealthy aristocrat. Just when Jacqueline thinks the murder of Lord Derby’s dowager mother has been solved, however, an unexpected turn of events teaches her that not everything, nor everyone, is as it seems.

Candace Morehouse captures the main themes in her new novel Suspicions of Love very aptly in the title. This work indeed revolves around both love and suspicions… and with hopes and fears about each running throughout, readers will find it hard to stop reading.

The premise is immediately intriguing and unusual; American Creighton Jacqueline Brooks, ‘Jacqueline,’ inherits a London detective agency. And from the first, dear gentle Jacqueline seems floored, and more than a little intimidated to be struggling through the London streets.

Stephen Haversham who immediately thinks Jacqueline ‘plain’ becomes something of her unwilling partner. Jacqueline is nobody’s fool though, and with each challenge becomes a stronger person. As the story goes forward, her inquisitiveness and logic impress readers as much as Stephen. As the characters develop, we like them more and more, and begin to feel what is likely the obvious hope (in a romance, anyway.) However, London has its share of dashing bachelors (some wealthy, to boot) and running a detective agency is apparently a great way to meet people.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this plot, from hoped-for romance to resolving minor to more major mysteries.

The characters steal the show, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Jacqueline reflects the lady-like demeanor of early 1900 America, but trouncing across London – with that wonderfully detailed, historical backdrop – she quickly develops a sharp tongue, revealing a much sharper mind than we expect at the outset. The unpredictable nature of our main character teams with a highly unpredictable plot to offer some real surprises and does maintain reader interest.

Resolving the mysteries is part of the plot (and one in particular is especially important.) Although this type of mystery is unlikely to attract the real whodunit reader who wants some fair shot at figuring out the puzzle. The changes in point-of-view, while handled correctly technically, seem like cheating, somehow.

A few parts are overly explained (or contrived) and detract from the plausible elements. The writer’s style is quite individual, with a tendency to wordy complex sentences in what might be considered an older style. At times the style and word choices may contribute (purposefully) to the aura of the early twentieth century. It is perhaps not an entirely comfortable style to read. What does come across nicely is a sense of time and place; from the rough streets of Whitechapel to the less than delightful medieval castle on the sea (plumbing is really so important!) Many a small detail offers a subtle sense of place, and some a dash of humor. Wondering what will happen next will keep you reading Suspicion of Love.