Reviewed by: E
Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.
Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.
But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker…
This blurb came from Goodreads
Ever since I discovered Quick when I read Ravished too many years ago to count I have eagerly sought out her writing as Quick, Castle, Krentz, or James and enjoyed the different styles associated with each name. In recent years Quick’s writing has gained a darker tone and seems to have a greater emphasis on suspense/mystery and less of a focus on the details of building the romantic relationship. I have to admit I miss some of that focus even as I enjoy trying to figure out “who done it.”.
Readers familiar with Quick’s style will find some common traits seen throughout her books in the protagonists and their supporting cast but she is able to combine them in such a way I never feel like I am reading the exact same character with a different name. Her heroines tend to be independent, smart, resourceful, and determined while willing to ask for or accept assistance when necessary. Her heroes also tend to be quiet, strong, determined, and have a deep seated need to protect others. Calista and Trent both fit her mold but I really LOVED how their professions were so very different and unexpected.
Calista runs a matchmaking agency and hosts social events where carefully researched like minded individuals are invited to attend, listen to a talk, and then discuss the topic. Her events provide a safe place to meet a prospective romantic interest away from the crush and expectation of everyday social life. Trent is an author of a popular crime series and as part of his research had more then a passing familiarty with the sometimes seedy underworld and a few of its inhabitants. He was also extremely protective of his family and rather suspicious of anything/any person he hasn’t thoroughly vetted. Calista fell under Trent’s suspicious gaze because under her influence his sister was regaining an interest in life. Their initial meeting was full of hostility and fireworks which then spilled over to Trent’s family when his sister discovered his interference.
Trent and Calista were fun together as they moved from opponents to having a reluctant truce to willing partners. I also enjoyed how they enteracted with others around them. The supporting characters helped flesh out the story and explained a lot of why Calista and Trent had become the individuals they were when the story opened. As their backstories unfolded I discovered they had a way of making life interesting even as they tried to maintain a rather quiet lifestyle. Their growth as characters was evident throughout the story and showed how each was a positive influence on the other.
I enjoy reading mysteries and trying to determine if I can successful spot the villain before the protagonists do is always an added bonus. I thought Quick did a good job with the mystery/suspsense aspect because several people came to mind as suspects. Trying to eliminate or confirm them as the suspense and body count grew and clues came to surface was quite challenging. In addition I found myself fascinated by the story behind the mourning trinkets and how there was an entire industry devoted to them. I also thought some of the additions you could order for the casket of your loved one were morbidly intriguing. Makes me wonder when they went out of style or were deemed no longer needed.
Overall I enjoyed reading ’Til Death Do Us Part but like I said at the beginning I wish the romance aspect was as strong as the suspense aspect. Quick delivered a good story with some unexpected twists and turns. She was able to keep me guessing almost to the very end about the villain and never let up on the action. I also found several of the side characters fascinating and I would love to know their stories.
I give ’Til Death Do Us Part a B-