Friday, February 10, 2012

Mysterious Romances

Sherlock's thoughts on love

Some people (like Sherlock, here) seem to think that mystery and romance don't go together. But out of all the romances I've read, some of my favorites have a great mystery plot. Here are a few that spring to mind:

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When Night Falls by Jenna Ryan (review here)

This time-travel romance is about two people who are trying to find Jack the Ripper. Although I liked the romance, what really kept me reading was the question of who the murderer was. There's a long list of suspects, each more likely than the last. The mystery runs out of steam before the end of the novel, but there was a twist I didn't see coming.

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Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase

This novel is one of my most favorite romances of all time! Leila Beaumont is a woman artist in 19th-century Paris. Her husband, Francis, is in love with the mysterious Comte d'Esmond, who is in love with Leila; but she doesn't want anything to do with either of them. Then Francis is murdered and she and d'Esmond join forces to find his killer.

Aside from the characters and setting, the thing I love most about Captives of the Night is that the murder mystery is solid--it would be enough to carry the book just on its own. I had no idea who the murderer was until Leila and d'Esmond figured it out; and when they did, it was such an obvious solution I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it.

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A Woman of Virtue and No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle

Both of these novels contain very decent mysteries. In A Woman of Virtue, Cecilia, the heroine, is being stalked by a serial killer. I enjoyed this mystery more for the atmosphere than anything else. No True Gentleman is more of a proper mystery, with a very Bogart-and-Bacall chemistry between the hero and heroine.

There are also plenty of mystery novels with a strong romantic sub-plot. Some of my favorites:

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The Gilded Age series by PB Ryan

This series takes place in Gilded Age Boston, with not-quite-lily-white governess, Nell Sweeney. Her partner in crime solving is the ├╝ber-sketchy Dr. William Hewitt, the son of Nell's employer and the black sheep of the family. William survived in Andersonville Prison during the Civil War, while his elder brother died; and now dude's got some major problems, like drug addiction and gambling.

I love the relationship between Nell and Will in this series, and the kiss they share in the train station at the end of Murder In the North End was one of the best literary kisses I've ever read. I highly recommend these books!

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Vicky Bliss mysteries by Elizabeth Peters

Vicky Bliss is an art historian who is involved with a dashing art thief, Sir John Smythe. An art historian and art thief--could there be a better partnership for dramatic potential?

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Reading Group mysteries by DR Meredith

Megan Clark is a forensic archaeologist in Amarillo, Texas, who also happens to be a huge mystery fan. When people are murdered, she and her book club, Murder by the Yard, decide to investigate. The only voice of caution is Ryan, Megan's best friend.

Meredith has a history of May/December romances in her novels, and this is no exception. Ryan is 30+ years Megan's senior (if I remember correctly), and certain that she could never be attracted to an old geezer like himself. Megan, much like Brennan on Bones, remains oblivious. I loved the sweet romance between these two, but Meredith has an absolutely nasty habit of hitting the reset button on Megan and Ryan's relationship between one book and the next. Perhaps it's for the best that she stopped writing this series.

Do you have any favorite novels that cross over between mystery and romance?


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