Hannah March, A Necessary Evil
In this fifth and final book of the series, Robert Fairfax trades London for Bath, where he’s tutoring a group of pleasant yet unteachable girls. He also becomes acquainted with Colonel James Delabole and his family, which consists of a wife and daughter, as well as a long-lost daughter from his first marriage, with whom Delabole is trying to reconcile. Tensions are high, so when Delabole is murdered, Robert has more than enough suspects to investigate. As with the other books in this series, this one is well-written, with a complex plot, interesting characters, and an evocative setting. However, I don’t think the author planned this to be a series finale, as there’s no resolution to Robert’s personal life. He seems to end in a worse place than he began, which I found disappointing. I do still recommend the series for those who enjoy historical mysteries, but I wish Robert could have found a little happiness in the end.
Sarah Adams, When in Rome
Pop star Amelia Rose is feeling burned out, so she decides to pull an Audrey Hepburn and go on a Roman holiday — to Rome, Kentucky, that is. But when her car breaks down, she’s forced to rely on the surly yet attractive Noah Walker for help. As they get to know each other, they have a hard time fighting their mutual attraction, but Noah’s life is in Rome and Amelia can’t stay forever, so how could they make a relationship work? This is a sweet contemporary romance that I enjoyed, though I sometimes felt the characters blew hot and cold for no reason. It paints an idyllic picture of life in a small town, which makes the book a fun escape even if it’s not particularly realistic. The author just came out with a novel featuring Noah’s younger sister, and I do plan to read it if I can get it from the library.
Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax
When Lord Darracott’s son and heir dies unexpectedly, Darracott shocks his family by announcing that the new heir is a grandson he’s never met, who grew up in Yorkshire and whose mother was a commoner. When the heir, Hugo, arrives at the estate, the family expects an ignorant yokel, so Hugo plays along — but it’s not long before some members of the family, including his cousin Anthea, recognize his intelligence and true worth. I love Georgette Heyer, but I’d only read this novel once, so I was interested to remind myself why it’s not one of my favorites. I think the answer is that the romance, while appealing, takes a backseat to family drama and a smuggling plot. I wanted more of Hugo and Anthea interacting and fewer conversations about the pros and cons of “free trading.” So for me, this is not one of Heyer’s best.