Alissa Johnson transports readers to 1872 in the first book in her Thief-takers series, A Talent For Trickery. Eight years earlier, Scotland Yard detective Owen Renderwell recruited Charlotte Walker’s father to assist him in solving crimes. Walker was an infamous thief, and Charlotte inherited much of his brilliance. Her father’s four-year association with Owen resulted in Charlotte falling in love with the handsome, keenly intelligent Detective Renderwell. But when her father was killed during a particularly high-profile case, Charlotte blamed Owen. Feeling betrayed and angry, she assumed a new identity, packed up her siblings and abruptly retired to the countryside with the intent of building a respectable life.
Much to her annoyance, Owen, now a private detective and a viscount, walks back into her life. He needs her help to solve the murder of a woman who was a friend of Charlotte’s father in London. Charlotte decides she must help catch the killer, even though doing so means she is forced to endure Owen’s presence in her home. Unbeknownst to Charlotte, Owen has never stopped thinking of her and is determined to prove they belong together. He plans to use every opportunity to win her love, as well as solve the case.
Using her talent for deciphering codes, Charlotte and Owen team up to search her father’s many journals for the key to the encrypted note left at the murder scene. Their work is interrupted when attempts are made on her life and the lives of her younger brother and sister. Now Owen and his two best friends must keep them safe, catch the villain threatening them and solve the woman’s murder. But who wants the Walker siblings dead and why? Did their father’s criminal past leave a legacy of vengeance that will destroy them all?
In a plot that twists, turns and surprises, Johnson has woven a compelling romance between two stubborn, endearing people. If you love smart heroines, intelligent heroes, witty dialogue and clever mystery plots, this gem of a historical romance might steal your heart.
Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington