St. Martin's, Mar 2002, 6.50, 352 pp.
In 1876 Chicago, Allan Pinkerton worries about the safety of one of his best female operatives. Too many recent incidents in which the cover of Sarah “Yancey” Calhoun has been blown have occurred. Allan and Yancey consult and she explains to him about the letters from England and the death of another Chicago resident with her name. Since all roads lead back across the Atlantic, Allan sends Yancey to England to straighten out why someone wants her dead.
Sarah journeys to the remote estate of Lord Samuel Treyhorne, husband to her dead namesake and son to the letter writer. Samuel distrusts Yancey especially when she claims his mother sent for her. As they struggle with one another love blossoms between them, but a killer wants both of them dead. Unless they learn to trust one another, Sarah and Samuel may fulfill their unknown assailant's fondest wish.
Fans of Cheryl Anne Porter's western romances (see WILD FIRE) need to understand that though the novel starts in the 1870s the Pinkerton Office, the plot is a romantic Victorian mystery. The author easily transitions into the genre with this wonderfully written tale. The lead couple is dynamic, as the aristocratic Samuel and the working class Yancey battles one another as much as they war with their enemy. The romance lightens yet embellishes the who-done-it of THE MARRIAGE MASQUERADE because the audience understands the lead couple so that their efforts make for a stronger story line. Ms. Porter's current fans will want more novels like this one while a horde of new admirers should surface.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner