Cecilia Markham-Sands Lorimer (later Countess of Walrafen) met David, Lord Delacourt under almost unpleasant circumstances. Namely he was drunk coming into the stables and thought she was a loose woman. Since she disliked him, Reverand Mr. Cole Amherst suggested she pretend to be engaged to Delacourt and later jilt him, which happened. Several years later, Cecilia is patroness of a charity mission and Inspector Maximillian de Rohan comes with news that they found Mary O'Gavin, who happened to be one of the girls she helps there, was murdered. Things go worse for Cecilia when Delacourt appears in her life as director of the mission on behalf of Reverand Mr. Amherst since his wife is ill. Later on another woman, who was a friend of Mary, is murdered. Cecilia and David try to find out why they were murdered and who did it, and along the way -- fall in love with each other.
This report prepared by Susannah Spurr
Pocket, Mar 2001, 6.50, 420 pp.
In 1818 at the racetrack, a drunk Lord David Delacourt learns that a beautiful whore waits for an aristocrat in a stable. David visits the stable and sees a beautiful woman he dubs "Peaches." Expecting a professional, David accosts the woman with kisses, which she returns. However, soon Peaches is battling David when Lord Markham-Sands asks him why he is on top of his sister? David offers marriage, but the woman, Lady Cecilia rejects it even with the intervention of his kind brother-in-law, Reverend Cole Amherst.
In 1824, David loses a card game to Cole with the stakes being the former must run the latter's mission to help the poor for three months while he tends his pregnant wife. When David arrives at the mission, he learns Cecilia works there. They are quite attracted to each other, but she thinks he is a worthless philandering drunk. As they become better acquainted, she revises her opinion of him, as he seems to really care. Meanwhile, two of the mission's girls are murdered leading David and Cecilia to work with a police officer to uncover a killer even as they fall in love with one another.
A WOMAN OF VIRTUE is an intriguing love story enhanced by an entertaining historical police procedural-amateur sleuth tale. The story line is filled with non-stop action as amateur sleuths David and Cecilia aristocratically bully their way onto the police investigation. The romance between the two lead characters combines with a well written mystery to provide cross-genre appeal and will help make Liz Carlyle a favorite of fans of both genres.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner