Eight novels in, and I am still enjoying the series but I have also hit the point where I may I need to take short a break. Honestly, for the last two or three novels, I was more interested in reading about the Hero/Sebastian relationship than the mystery itself. Fortunately, the way this novel ends feels like the perfect time to take a break since they seem to have reached a good balance in their relationship after making steps towards it at the end of the last novel.
I can’t even imagine how much time Harris must spend on plotting since she ties together so many loose threads and red herrings during these novels. I definitely never guess the killers in these because there is so much going on although it also means these can become an exhausting binge read. Anonymous footpads show up in every single novel, threaten Sebastian ineffectively and get killed in the struggle. Basically, I wouldn’t mind one novel where Sebastian wasn’t being followed and didn’t end up ruining several coats.
However, those issues are really my fault for reading so many of these in succession! Spread out over more time, it wouldn’t have been an issue, and I actually enjoyed this mystery quite a bit more than the last two.
It’s been a long night for Sebastian. He’s spent the night searching for an old Army friend after his wife was worried about him not coming home the previous night, only for the major to be found dead. Since his friend has been invalid for the last few years resulting from a war related illness, Sebastian suspects suicide. As he is preparing to go home and grieve his friend, his estranged father finds him to ask him to help Kat, the one person that would inspire Sebastian to put aside his issues with the Earl of Hendon. Kat’s husband is in jail for the murder of Daniel Elias, a jewelry seller/pawn broker/ antiques dealer. As Sebastian tries to find out who else had motive to kill the old man and clear Yates, he discovers that just about everyone who ever interacted with the man had reason to kill him. In fact, his death may have actually been a service deserving of reward.
While there are plenty of candidates that may have been motivated by revenge or self-preservation, it turns out Elias was also in possession of a 45-carat blue diamond at the time of his death that has gone missing. In fact, there are suspicions that the blue jewel may have been part of the royal collection stolen from France 20 years previously, adding political motivation for his death since Napoleon wants the diamond returned to France. The Prince Regent and as result Jarvis are tangentially involved because naturally, Prinny would be a, if not the only, potential client for a diamond of this size.
On the personal front, Sebastian is worried about how this might affect his relationship with Hero though there is no way he wouldn’t help Kat. Fortunately Hero is understanding, and as Sebastian interacts with the two women, he comes to some realizations about his feelings involving these women. Harris handles the complexity of the relationships well, and the difference between the youthful passion he had for Kat and the growing respect and affection developing between Hero and Sebastian.