“Night Storm”: Romantic Mystery Series

23137334Night Storm by Tracey Devlyn (Bones & Gemstones #1)
September 22, 2014, TDC Creations, Inc. (Historical Romance; Historical Mystery)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

Night Storm is Tracey Devlyn’s latest historical romance, and it’s perfect for fans of historical mysteries. I first read the author with A Lady’s Secret Weapon, which I loved. I was quite delighted to receive an advance copy of Night Storm, especially when I learned that it featured two characters that had a “moment” in A Lady’s Secret Weapon; it was clear that they had History, and in Night Storm readers are treated to what that History is.

Charlotte Fielding is an apothecary, one of the only females working at the profession, and she has returned home to London from her apprenticeship in Scotland to take over her father’s shop. Unfortunately, she soon finds herself involved in a murder investigation when she stumbles upon the body of Lady Winthrop. Complicating matters is the fact that Charlotte’s assistant’s brother, Felix, works at the theatre where the body was discovered. Charlotte will do whatever she can to protect Felix, even keep important information from her former suitor, Cameron Adair.

Cameron has made himself a success as a thief-taker despite his less than illustrious beginnings. When he’s brought in to investigate the murder of Lady Winthrop, Cameron is forced into regular contact with Charlotte, which brings back all his memories of her and the past they shared before Charlotte decided to pursue her studies in Scotland. While the two follow different avenues of investigation they soon have to decide whether or not they trust one another enough to share information – as well as deal with their complicated history. What I liked about Night Storm was the past relationship between Charlotte and Cameron. They both cared for each other, but when Charlotte wanted to do more with her life, Cameron decided not to go with her, breaking all contact with her. He refused to wait for Charlotte, and he gave her an ultimatum: marry him then, or not ever. I found it interesting that it is Charlotte’s career drove these two apart, as that’s not a common element in historical romance, and I like the way that it was handled. It wasn’t so much that Cameron was against Charlotte having a career, but rather a fear of losing the one person he cared most for and the believe that just maybe she didn’t care as much.

Cameron was an interesting character and he really seemed to have a dual personality. In one respect, Cameron was ruthless in his job as a thief taker, and readers learn that he did some unscrupulous things in order to get started in the business. It seems that this risk taking behaviour was a direct result of Charlotte refusing to stay in London and abandon her dreams. On the surface, Cameron seems unreasonable in his belief that Charlotte give up her professional dreams and marry him, but readers soon learn that there is another side to Cameron, a yearning to recapture what he had with Charlotte when they’re reunited:

He’d known better than to attempt reconciliation. The day he’d walked out of her life, the day she’d stood in front of him with broken-hearted love shimmering in her eyes, he’d known she would never forgive him. So why had he put them through an ill-fated reunion tonight after so much time had passed?

Adair forced down the bile forming in the back of his throat. He knew very well why. After learning of Charley’s return to London, he’d made regular trips down Long Acre Street looking for the opportunity of catching a fleeting glimpse of her. And he had. He’d observed her working long into the night and he’d been there when she had greeted a boy and a young woman one morning. He’d watched and yearned and plotted ways to casually run into her. Tonight, he’d finally found an excuse to see her again, and she’d wanted nothing to do with him. Not that he could blame her, but her rejection stung, nonetheless (p. 29-30).

Cameron was a well developed character, and I thought his vulnerability when it came to Charlotte was exceptionally portrayed. Cameron’s actions always seem to suggest that he’s a rather cold, and unfeeling character, but whenever readers get into his head, it’s easy to see that there is much more going on. I loved this complexity of character, and I also liked how the author used this same care with regards to Cameron and Charlotte’s relationship.

It’s very clear from the beginning that Cameron is aware that he made mistakes; however, it’s equally clear that Charlotte is also unaware of her own father’s manipulations in removing Charlotte from Cameron’s influence. Charlotte’s father certainly didn’t believe Cameron was good enough for Charlotte, and encouraging her to take an apprenticeship was one means of breaking off contact. Ultimately, Night Storm‘s romance focuses on both Charlotte and Cameron’s admittance of their past mistakes. When they were first together they were young and full of high emotion. Age has tempered these high spirits, allowing both of them to reconsider their past actions:

Had Charley not gone to Scotland, they would likely wed and begun building a family. But what would their situations be like right now, had Charley followed her heart and not her parents’ wishes? (p. 122).

 

I appreciated the fact that these two looked back on their relationship with fresh eyes and that they both realized that they were both at fault for the dissolution of their relationship. The blame was shared, and one these two got past that, the romance started moving along, which happened later in the book than I was expecting.

The one thing that I found somewhat disappointing with Night Storm is the fact that the romance wasn’t completely resolved by the end. When I picked up this book I was aware that it was a series, but what I wasn’t aware of was the fact that it seems to be a series devoted to Charlotte and Cameron, rather than one that simply focuses on a different couple in each book. At least that’s my speculation. Thus, I found the focus on the mystery and slow moving nature of Charlotte and Cameron’s relationship to be somewhat unexpected. While Charlotte and Cameron’s relationship does move forward, they are not settled, and this may bother some readers. I think there is a lot of potential for conflict between Charlotte and Cameron, and I can see this being the focus of subsequent books. While I was surprised by this technique, there was enough resolution for my to feel that I don’t have to read the next book right away (which is usually my problem with series), but I certainly will be back for more.

My verdict? Night Storm is an excellent choice for historical romance fans that are looking for a strong mystery element alongside their romance. An added bonus here, is the author’s well developed characters an carefully considered romance. I highly recommend this one.

*Review copy provided by the author.

Similar Reads

I was surprised at the dominance the mystery element had in Night Storm, and I was immediately put in mind of Amanda Quick, who also writes historical romance equally balanced by a strong mystery. While the tone is quite different, Quick relies more on wit, but if your looking for less romance and more mystery, Quick is an excellent choice. Quick also happens to have a series featuring an investigative duo that just might appeal if you liked Night Storm; start with Slightly Shady.

Slightly Shady (Lake/March, #1)

Manda Collins is another author that combines mystery with romance really well. What I like about Collins’ is the fact that she often uses upstanding characters that find themselves suddenly part of an intrigue. To date, my favourite is How to Romance a Rake. Don’t let the title fool you, the hero really isn’t much of a rake, and the romance is adorably sweet.

How to Romance a Rake (Ugly Ducklings #2)

Lastly, I think fans of Devlyn may also like Shana Galen, especially if you’ve enjoyed Devlyn’s Nexus series. Galen writes excellent spy capers. Although I do find that Galen’s novels are heavier on the romance than Devlyn was in Night Storm. My favourite Galen title so far is Love and Let Spy. For my full thoughts on that one, see my review.

Love and Let Spy (Lord and Lady Spy, #3)

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