Jillian Stone

Books: Romance | Historical

A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis (2012)

A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis (2012)

Set in England and Scotland in 1887.

There were so very many things wrong with this story, I can't even list them all. But I'm going to try my damnedest to give you a sound accounting.

Fanny Greyville-Nugent's father has died in a horrible industrial accident. Just when she thinks life can get no worse, her ex-fiancee (and childhood best friend) appears, claiming to be there to protect her.

Raphael "Rafe" Lewis is a member of Scotland Yard, and a rake. He also broke off his engagement with Fanny pretty much at the bethroal party (although he kindly allowed it to be known that she broke things off). When two industrialists are killed, Scotland Yard decides it's a plot against industrialists, and sends Rafe to protect the heir to the Greyville-Nugent fortune and empire.

Let me make sure things are clear at the outset: Rafe shows up at Fanny's father's funeral, claims the man was murdered, and claims he (Rafe) is there to protect her (Fanny) by taking her on his investigations into other inverters and industrialists.

So far, so good. The industrial age was problematic on many levels, and the Luddites had attempted years earlier to bring a halt to these changes, and obviously failed. So it's not unreasonable that similar attempts might have been made later on.

But then things start to fall apart quickly as far as the mystery, romance, and over-all story go.

Someone attempts to kidnap Fanny, so instead of holing up somewhere safe (like, say, her house) Rafe decides they need to flee to London. Where they *keep* running into bad guys, whether they are on the train, on horse, or on foot.

Rafe is repeatedly beaten up, stabbed in the side, and knocked unconscious, yet he seems to seems to suffer no ill-effects.

"All right, Fan. If it will do you good, have at me."

She punched him in the jaw and his head snapped back.

He rubbed his cheek. "A lefty. I'd quite forgotten what a wallop you pack in that dainty little—" Fists flying, she let loose a flurry of punishment, which he tolerated until a jab to his nose drew blood. "You little devil." He picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder. She continued her drubbing, with blows to his back and kicks to his shin.

So here we have a woman whose father has been brutally murdered, and she's forced to flee with a man who humiliated her by breaking off their engagement at the betrothal ball. So what does Rafe do?

Seduce her, of course! Because long term commitments should be made in the throes of grief!

Also! We discover that he almost seduced her the night of their betrothal ball–when he already knew he had to cry off their engagement.

And then there are the derring do. With 1880s revolvers, Rafe manages to take down many bad guys.

From a distance.

And no one ever bothers to count bullets, and they only run out of bullets at dramatic moments.

He had to make that train. Rafe ducked between travelers and headed for a great ironwork stairway that led to the street above. He launched himself upward, taking two steps at a time. The two blokes behind him jostled past commuters as they chased after him.

As soon as the pedestrian traffic cleared, Rafe turned and fired his revolver. One of the gunmen slumped and rolled down the steps.

That happens repeatedly.

Plus this:

A desperate, quick scan located his Webley. The revolver had skittered along the edge of the railcar's roofline. His beady-eyed pursuer flashed a maniacal grin. "Well now, I finally get rid of you, Detective Lewis."

Finally, they make it to a train, and she sends home for changes of clothes.

"I'll need at least at least five day frocks. The plain blue muslin and the pale yellow pinstripe with the pink and white paisley waistcoat." She detailed a shirt and jacket and skirt combination before stopping with a sigh. "And I suppose something respectably black."

No. No no no. Her father has JUST died. She would be wearing nothing by black. She wouldn't want to wear anything but black. Except then the author couldn't have her detail how all her dresses need matching undergarments. That whole bit just pissed me off. I'm not saying she should have curled up in a ball. But she was not acting like a normal human being in grief.

Oh, and there's this:

Fanny when she woke up. Her mop of curls, always a bit askew…

Askew. Yes. That's how curly hair looks first thing in the morning. Askew.

And then another inventor has a submersible. Yes. A submarine. OK. Fine. Someone tried to use a submarine during the Civil War. It didn't work, and everyone died, but the technology wasn't that far fetched.

Except this guy has invented a gasoline powered sub. And! Here they are! On the sub! Under the surface of the water!

He sucked in stale air and exhaled.

Stale air? From a gasoline powered submarine? That's a polite way of describing what it should have been, which would be a near toxic environment of gasoline fumes.

And remember how much he'd been beaten up? I wasn't exaggerating.

A rap at the door brought a lab technician in to look at his wound. Zeno closed his file. Reluctantly, Rafe shrugged out of his shirt. He turned to confront stunned looks on the men's faces. "What?"

"Christ, Rafe." Zeno shook his head. "Is there a place on your body that isn't wounded or bruised?" He looked down at his torso.

"Those last two tumbles off the carriage did a bit more damage than I thought."

Yet he's still moving like there's nothing wrong. And totally seducing the girl with that body.

And here she is at the end of the book, still days after her father's death.

Fanny wore something frothy in a peachy rose color.

No. No no no no no.

And the mystery was just… ridiculous. The bad guy kidnapped Fanny for… reasons. He killed everyone else, but kidnaps Fanny. Oh. And tries to seduce Fanny. Because of course he does.

I initially kept on reading because I wanted to know why people were being killed. Then I wondered why Fanny had been kidnapped and not murdered. Then I moved onto hate reading, because by GUM I was going to finish this, and note all the ridiculous insanity that kept piling up.

Oh. And let me close with this, "but he did not enter her moist parts." My. How romantic.

Publisher: Pocket Books

Rating: 4/10