Dinner Most Deadly by Sheri Cobb South, the latest John Pickett Regency mystery, intertwines a satisfying murder mystery with the latest wrinkles in the up-and-down romance of Bow Street Runner John Picket and the widowed Julia, Lady Fieldhurst.
Julia, at the urging of her friend, hosts a dinner party at which she will select a lover. Reluctantly. The only man she wants is John Pickett, but society’s strictures forbid a linkage between a baron’s widow and a poor commoner. One of her candidates is a man no one at the dinner likes, each for a very good reason. But, by the end of the evening, the object of their dislike can no longer cause trouble, because someone shoots him dead in the foyer.
John Pickett is called in to investigate. He must solve the case, as well as explain to Julia the ramifications of their visit to Scotland (in Family Plot). Even worse, he discovers the distasteful thing he must do to free them both from the effects.
Ms. South writes truly villainous villains, this one so bad you’re glad when he is killed, and even wish the murderer could get away with the crime. But that is not to be, since John is so good at his work. Still…
While the mystery is intriguing, at this point, John and Julia’s romance is the main draw.
In John Pickett, Ms. South gives us a portrait of the common man as superior to the aristocrat. Though not born to the Quality, he is more of a gentleman than most of the so-called “gentlemen” in Society. With each installment in this series, he becomes more of a hero. Here, he is willing to debase himself in order to protect Julia, while still refusing to do anything that will dishonor her or their love. What a man.
Julia still wavers in her commitment, though not her desire, for John, and that’s understandable, given all the pressure applied to her to conform, which is worse for a woman than for a man. Will she take a stand for love?
But John is also human, and he’s almost at the breaking point. Something has to give. While money and class are very real impediments to John and Julia’s love, we still root for love to win.
Julia had better make her decision soon. If she doesn’t snatch up John, I’ll take him. :)
Thank you all,
ARC provided by the author