A romance blossoms between a wealthy English girl and her poor Bow Street runner beau, and the class barriers can only be overcome when the laborer lover saves his girl from death at the hands of a psychopath who killed her parents. This novel is actually the last in a loosely linked "series", but works fine as a standalone novel, which is probably how I ended up with it as part of a big chock of romance novels that were given to me for Christmas.
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The novel is set in Regency- era England, specifically London. Celia is one of five sisters from a very wealthy family, but since her parents are dead, each of the sisters' inheritance is held in trust by the girls' grandmother, and she has decided she will not give them their money until they are wed in one year. The girls live in stingy though comfortable lifestyles underneath her and cannot wait to break free, especially Celia. Celia is a tomboy who doesn't follow conventions and so nobody ever expressed interest in her until they learned that she had a fortune. She is now equally careful of the men, and hires a Bow Street Runner named Jackson to investigate the financial and family background of every man she is either interested in or has shown interest in her. Jackson is handsome and already in love with Celia, but can't think of a way to woo her when she realistically needs someone of her rank to marry. Celia is equally attracted to a man who understands and accepts her un-ladylike qualities.
However, things take a serious turn as Celia begins to confide Jackson about the mysterious way her parents died and he begins to help her track down the murderer. They find out that her father was cheating on her mother, than her cousin Ned was after an inheritance that later got changed in the grandmother's will (that she'd give her entire fortune to her grandson), and later that Celia's mother cheated too. But most of their leads end up as dead ends. Meanwhile, Celia and Jackson are falling hard for her. Her family likes him, but there is a over-dramatized reliance on the two lovers coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. Even though Celia ends up having hot, steamy sex with Jackson after he confesses his love to her, Jackson feels unworthy of her. But then Celia is kidnapped by a Portuguese viscount, who turns out to be Rawford, her parents' murderer, a murder motivated by their meddling in Rawford's smuggling trade and threatening to expose him, cutting off their friendship. And now that Rawford has seen that Celia has been on his trail, she needs to die too.
Jackson finds out where she was last seen by using his status as an investigator to question all his contacts in London, and gets to Rawford's hunting lodge just in time to shoot Rawford as he attempts to kill Celia. Celia and Jackson reconcile, and Jackson makes sure that Rawford's associates are arrested. Celia is at peace knowing what happened finally, and she and Jackson get married.
Best part of story, including ending:
I disliked it because it had a very contrived and fake plot, very poorly researched.
Best scene in story:
when Celia and her sister Minerva are drinking hot chocolate and discussing suitable gentlemen callers.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Celia is not traditionally feminine, and that Jackson has a family man vibe.