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The first kiss occurred in a dimly-lit hallway on the upper floor of Elwin Hastings's grand house. Louisa never saw it coming ...Of course, Anthony Stalbridge couldn't possibly have had romantic intentions. The kiss was an act of desperation, meant to distract the armed guard about to catch the pair in a place they did not belong. After all, Louisa Bryce is no man's idea of an alluring female in her dull maroon gown and gold-rimmed spectacles. The only thing the two interlopers have in common is a passionate interest in the private affairs of Mr. Hastings - a prominent member of Victorian Society whom they both suspect of hiding terrible secrets. Each has a reason for the quest. Anthony's fiancee was said to have thrown herself into the Thames - but Anthony has his own suspicions. Louisa - whose own identity is shrouded in layers of mystery - is convinced Hastings has a connection to a notorious brothel. But bringing Hastings to justice will be more perilous than either anticipates - and their hasty partnership will be more heated than either expects.
The suspense begins with the first sentence of this romantic mystery from the pseudonymous Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz uses this pseudonym for her Victorian novels). Gossip spreads fast about the liaison between "unimportant, unfashionable, excessively dull" Louisa Bryce and wealthy, handsome Anthony Stalbridge. In reality, their first kiss was a spur-of-the-moment coverup when the two are caught snooping around Elwin Hastings's mansion. Louisa, an undercover reporter for the sensational newspaper, Flying Intelligencer, is investigating Hastings's crooked financial dealings, while Anthony seeks the truth about his fianc e, one of three society women who supposedly committed suicide a year ago. Under the guise of their romance, Louisa and Anthony expose Hastings's many criminal schemes. Their relationship isn't all business, however, and Louisa's profession isn't her only secret. Quick's tightly woven tale allows little room for extraneous subplots every cracked safe and mysterious prostitute plays an important role. Light humor and playful love scenes temper the more gruesome moments for an alluring combination of foggy nights and steamy afternoons.