The first four novels in this series took place over more than a year, leaving Sebastian some time to recover between his escapes from near death, and allowing his valet some time to repair his wardrobe. Books 5 (What Remains of Heaven, Where Shadows Dance and When Maidens Mourn) all take place within about two or three weeks of each other. On the one hand, it seems a bit crazy that there are so many intriguing murders going on within this short period, but at least it’s London, a large enough city to justify the murder rate.
Besides, Harris is constrained by other plot circumstances. With Hero’s accidental pregnancy resulting from her interlude with Sebastian during a near death experience, there is only so much time to move along the main story line before Hero’s pregnancy is obvious to everyone. Book 5 set up Sebastian’s discovery of the pregnancy (already alluded to in the fourth novel when Sebastian volunteered to marry Hero if there were consequences – now there’s a loaded gun), Book 6 was the wedding, and now Book 7 explores these two strangers in the first days of their marriage. As they are getting to know each other, Hero’s friend Gabrielle Tennyson is discovered dead, and her two young cousins missing. Since Hero suspects her father may know something, this puts a natural strain on their new marriage since Hero and Sebastian are unsure how much to trust each other as they figure out how to handle Hero’s divided loyalty between her husband and her father, Lord Jarvis.
Gabrielle was leading an archeological dig on a site she thought might have been the ancient Camelot of Arthurian legend. Certainly, the site so far has shown ruins of castles and even revealed signs of Roman inhabitation but an important historical site does not necessarily mean Camelot or prove the Arthur legend was real.
The Prince Regent continues to be a rather ineffective ruler, leading to cartoons comparing Arthur to Prinny and calling for the return of Arthur, the once and future king. From a political perspective, Jarvis does not need anything to fuel the Arthur legends and it appears that Gabrielle may have been an obstacle to one of his plans. Sebastian also quickly discovers a French suitor, some family irregularities, and a rejected suitor all in play. As usual, there are too many people with motives, leading down surprising paths, including to another man with amber eyes.
One of the things I really liked about this novel actually had nothing to do with the novel itself. Due to the Camelot part of the narrative, Harris also talks a bit about King Henry II and his discovery of the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, an event that was the setting of another historical mystery, Grave Goods by Arianna Franklin and part of her Mistress of Death series. It was nice seeing something that I had only ever heard of in another mystery being referenced in one set six hundred years later.