Slightly Shady, by Amanda Quick

Cover ImageFinished 7-10-09, rating 3/5, historical romance, pub. 2001

She had to swallow twice before she could speak.  When she did eventually manage to utter a few coherent words, her voice sounded thin and it easily cracked.

“Did you murder that man?”

Tobias glanced at the body.  “No.  I got here after the killer, just as you did.  From what I can determine, Felix was killed on his front step.  The murderer must have dragged him back into this room.”

The news did little to reassure her.  “What are you doing here?”

“I was about to ask you the same question.”  He contemplated her with a considering air.  “But I have a hunch I already know the answer.  You are obviously on of Felix’s blackmail victims, are you not?”

Chapter 2

Lavinia Lake and her niece, Emeline, have been stranded in Italy and have had to make ends meet my opening an antique shop.  One night, the mysterious and brusque Tobias March barges in and demands they must leave for their own safety.  As he sends them back to London, the last thing they see is him smashing up the valuables in their shop.

Lavinia Lake is obviously still smarting from his behavior months later when they meet again, over the body of a dead man.  The two headstrong widowers are both used to taking care of things on their own and when they are forced to work together anger and resentment make it challenging for all involved.  The two are on the trail of a the last remaining member of a criminal gang and cannot stop even when it becomes dangerous because their client is paying them to protect her from harm. 

I loved the witty dialogue and the mystery, but was disappointed with the romance.  Tobias was a good character, but Lavinia was such a cold fish that I never did warm up to her.  Although I guessed the murderer pretty early on there were still many aspects that I didn’t figure out til the end. 

This is the first in a trilogy featuring Lavinia Lake (don’t you just love that name?) and Tobias March.  This book set up the trilogy nicely and although this book is not a favorite of mine I am curious enough about some of the characters – such as her niece and client- that I may look for the next book.  The two next books in the series are Don’t Look Back and Late for the Wedding.