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Where the Heart Leads, romance and mystery

Where the Heart Leads: From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair is the newest historical mystery/romance from bestselling author Stephanie Laurens. If you love a good Regency romance, you’ll adore this novel. If you have never read a romance, but like a good historical fiction novel, or a good historical mystery, you will be surprised by how much you like this book.

I was raised by English majors. I don’t think I met anyone who read romances until I was in my mid-thirties. My family talked about reading “popcorn books”, (aka books that aren’t classified as literary fiction), but they were talking about anything on the bestseller list, people read popular mysteries, or occasionally sci fi/fantasy, but not romances. When I started reading chick lit, and then paranormals, I thought there was a big difference between those and romances. There really isn’t much of a difference at all, and I’m annoyed with myself for dismissing an entire branch of fiction because of this attitude! The storyline, character development, and rich background research in Where the Heart Leads leads to an enchanting story, one that is of higher quality than a lot of “quality” literature.

Where the Heart Leads follows the life of Barnaby Adair, the third son of an earl, through his fourth mystery in Lonndon during the 1830s. Adair works in conjunction with a policeman at Scotland Yard named Stokes. (If you’re up on your good mysteries, think Lord Peter and Parker about 90 years earlier.) Penelope is the sister of a Viscount, and has used her place in society to help others, specifically by running the Foundling House, which helps teaches orphans from the East End skills to help them gain legal employment when they are older. Recently, however, 4 boys have disappeared after the death of their guardian, and before someone from the Foundling House could arrive to pick them up. Penelope is worried about the 4 boys, and convinces Adair to help her find the boys and protect the next East End boys who become orphaned from the same fate.

Laurens writes with such detail that we can almost smell the world of the ton and the opposing world of the East End. The clothes and foods are likewise beautifully detailed, and combined with the depth of character truly pulls you into the story so you can’t put down Where the Heart Leads. Barnaby Adair is a confirmed bachelor – no wife would be happy with him performing his investigations assisting Stokes and the police. Penelope is likewise determined not to marry, as she is insistent that her duty is to the children of the Foundling House, and no husband would agree with her level of involvement there. The two are drawn together in the investigation, and in Penelope’s search for a passionate affair without any strings attached. As they investigate, Scotland Yard officer Stokes and popular milliner Griselda, who grew up in the East End. The two couples work together and with both the local “rozzers” (police) and the East Enders to locate the boys, make them safe, and thwart a burglary scheme.

If you’ve never tried a Regency romance, you will be swept away by Where the Heart Leads! If you are already a romance lover, don’t wait to pick this up, you’ll love it! If you’re a mystery lover, you’ll really enjoy the class struggles and the unique methods of investigation in the 1830s. Stephanie Laurens has created fabulous characters and a world that is lively and fun. I’m looking forward to checking out her other novels, too.

This book was received from the publisher for review

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