I enjoyed reading Barbara Metzger’s A Suspicious Affair for many reasons, including a strong heroine, an irrepressible hero, and a cast of secondary characters who are so interesting that they each deserve their own stories. However, the main reason I so loved this book is that it breaks a couple of molds and features unique aspects that I don’t usually find in a historical romance.
The story doesn’t begin, for instance, with a scene between the hero and heroine, but rather with the death of a duke. A suspicious death, as it turns out. Tasked with solving the crime is Bow Street Runner Jeremiah Dimm. He is a wonderful, earthy and totally relatable character and is actually the first character introduced in the novel. In fact, he serves as a sort of humorous Dickensian guide through most of the action of the story. I was thrilled that I didn’t just meet Dimm, grow to like him, and never see him again for the rest of the novel. Barbara Metzger doesn’t throw away her secondary characters. She has a particular knack for highlighting them while sacrificing none of the focus on her central romance.
Of course, Dimm isn’t the only interesting or well-developed character. The hero, Carlinn Kimbrough, is wonderfully rough around the edges. He’s brusk and poorly dressed, but also handsome and capable and just the kind of man a woman requires in a crisis. The heroine, Marisol Pendenning, is strong-willed and confident, but definitely in a crisis. She’s the very pregnant widow of the suspiciously murdered Duke of Denning and also the chief suspect for the cold-blooded deed. The rumpled earl, Kimbrough, lives on a neighboring estate, but he is also a suspect in her husband’s untimely demise. The conundrum of the duke’s suspicious death runs through the story, but the relationship that develops between Marisol and Carlinn shines through the mystery.
In A Suspicious Affair, Metzger tells an engaging tale and creates characters that drew me in completely. Every aspect of a great historical romance novel is here in this tale, but with magnificent characters like Jeremiah Dimm, Barbara Metzger added moments of humor and realism that will always make this story stand out in my memory. Her story telling skills also made me eager to seek out more of her novels.
After the cold-blooded murder of her odious husband, Marisol Pendenning, a lovely but pregnant young widow, and Lord Kimbrough, the handsome aristocrat who had been the last to see the victim alive, are drawn into the search for a killer.