Published by Berkley on April 19, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic suspense
Source: the publisher
Also by this author: Crystal Gardens, The Mystery Woman, Otherwise Engaged, Garden of Lies, The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.
Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.
But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker...
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I’ve come to expect an unexpected twist toward the end of an Amanda Quick (or Jayne Ann Krentz) book — but I totally did not see the final twist coming in this one. In addition to several plot twists, there’s plenty of danger and suspense and an almost Gothic feel to the book, due in part to the killer’s habit of sending memento mori to the victims before their deaths. Memento mori are literally mementos of the dead, and were surprisingly popular in the Victorian era: rings or brooches holding a lock of the deceased’s hair, for instance. To receive one with her own initials on it would have frightened any young lady of the time.
Unlike a Gothic heroine, however, Calista Langley is not easily terrorized. She is a determined and resourceful young woman. Yet even she is shaken when she realizes that the killer has actually been inside her bedroom. (I would be, too!) Her relationship with Trent gets off to a rocky start when she mistakes him for a client; in fact, he’s worried about the influence she is having on his sister, and he doesn’t trust her. Nonetheless, as a mystery writer, he has skills and contacts that prove useful in uncovering what is going on — and who is stalking Calista. Of course, this is romantic suspense, so you know where their relationship is headed from the start, but I still enjoyed watching it develop.
Fast-paced and gripping, ‘Till Death Do Us Part kept me turning pages late into the night. In fact, if you’re susceptible to nightmares or find books about serial killers disturbing, you might want to read this one during daylight hours. Let me hasten to add that there’s no gratuitous violence and the book is not overly graphic or gory; it’s very much in the usual Quick/Krentz style (perhaps a hair darker), and the suspense, danger, and slightly dark tones are alleviated by occasional humor and snappy dialogue. If you enjoy her novels or are a fan of historical romantic suspense generally, I definitely recommend giving ‘Till Death Do Us Part a try.
About the cover: The cover is very pretty and atmospheric, but beyond that, it doesn’t really fit the book at all. This is a story set in London, not the countryside. (And I won’t go into the question of historical inaccuracy when it comes to the dress!)