Jove, Jan 2003, 6.50, 352 pp.
At one time, many snobbish grubbing mothers and their simpering daughters considered Morgan Gage one of the prime catches of the Ton as he is wealthy and handsome. Morgan learns how fast first grade meat can spoil when he falls from grace as the pariah of the Ton with no entrance to any door of the Polite Society. Everyone including family and friends firmly believe Morgan murdered his father. Though he could not care less what the aristocracy thought of him, Morgan wants to clear his name as the “Wicked Earl of Waring” by catching the real killer, but he needs a ticket back into society.
Morgan finds his key when he meets Leah Brodie, a former top gun who also fell from grace (just not as far) because of her temper. Morgan offers a business courtship with Leah, who accepts expecting to regain her advantage with the Ton. As he sleuths, they fall in love, but first Morgan must uncover the identity of the culprit if he is to share a lifetime with Leah.
The amateur sleuth investigation conducted by Leah and Morgan enhances what would have been a typical Regency convenience tale. The who-done-it is cleverly designed to enable the audience to observe the positive qualities of the protagonists and a few not so nice traits while watching the pair bungle at finding clues. The love subplot remains the prime theme, but the mystery makes Jacqueline Navin's novel pure BLISS.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner