London, 1670. Lord Arlington’s clerk Abbott dies in suspicious circumstances and James Marwood must look for secret papers he is alleged to have taken home. This leads him to the Blue Bush tavern and a mysterious Dutchman called Van Riebeeck. Meanwhile, Cat Lovett or rather the widowed mrs. Hakesby, is working as an architect for Lord Arlington and is also designing for Mr Fanshawe who harbours a lion in his stables and has connections with Van Riebeeck. In this way, Cat and Marwood again become entangled in the same case, one that leads to a secret at the heart of Charles II’s court.
This is another strong volume in the series about James Marwood and Cat Lovett. In The royal secret they both have an equally big role and Cat seems to finally have found her place in the world. Thus, I found it more enjoyable to read about her.
Besides Abbott’s murder, there is an important storyline about the king’s sister Minette – or Madame as she is called at the French court. She is married to Louis XIV’s brother and wants to bring both kings together in all things, also religion. Something the Dutch would rather avoid.
It brings Cat, who gets an assignment for Madame, to France. So there are many new elements in this story, which does make this one of the better parts of the series. There are plenty of plotlines that keep it engaging, also one about two young girls at the Fanshawe household who perform witchcraft. But beside all those different storylines, there’s a clear focus on the case.
The relationship between James and Cat remains an off and on game, but in some way this works for me. Even as a non romance lover. I’m curious to see if the next installment will bring Cat and Marwood closer together.
Do you like on and off relationships in books?