St. Martin's, April 2002, 6.99, 368 pp.
Francesca Cahil, the twenty-year-old daughter of wealthy parents, lives in a posh New York City neighborhood. In 1902, a young woman with her status should be going to society balls and looking for a rich husband, but she is hardly the typical debutante. She has enrolled in college, without her parents' knowledge, is trying to earn money as a sleuth, and is madly in love with the police commissioner, Rick Bragg.
Although Rick returns her feelings he keeps their relationship on a platonic level because he's married although he hasn't seen his wife for four years. The only part of contact these star-crossed lovers have is when Francesca inserts herself into a police investigation. While out on a case of her own, Francesca finds the dead body of a young Irish seamstress and learns from Bragg that there was another murder identical to the one the beautiful bluestocking discovered. Trying to keep their emotions in check, the two sleuths work together to uncover a very clever killer.
Although DEADLY AFFAIRS is labeled a romance, it is really an amateur sleuth mystery. Brenda Joyce writes a compelling tale filled with so many twists and turns that readers will never be able to discover who the killer is until the author is ready to reveal it. This is a series that will have crossover appeal to romance and mainstream readers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner