'Til Death Do Us Part
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...
Quick's ambitious Victorian historical mixes witty, occasionally self-referential banter with gothic undertones and a solid thriller plot. Calista Langley has resigned herself to spinsterhood now that she's in her late 20s. She runs a discreet matchmaking and salon service, pairing each singleton with a potential partner of the person's preferred gender. She's also being stalked by a mysterious person who leaves ominous memento mori in her house. Successful mystery author Trent Hastings, dubious about the service Calista is offering his sister, Eudora, confronts her. After some initial hostilities, he finds himself drawn to her and begins helping her investigate the stalker. They're joined by Eudora as well as Calista's younger brother, Andrew (a talented investigator in his own right). The four begin to uncover a series of murders, and soon their lives are threatened. Along with the danger, Quick throws in a great deal of humor (including a wonderful running gag centered on Hastings's latest story), a large cast of well-rounded characters, and lots of solid red herrings. This is a true delight for fans of historical romances and mysteries.