Too Hot to Handel
I'm always delighted to have the opportunity to review a new book by my friend Sheri Cobb South. Sheri and I go way back, to the rather early days of Romance publishing, when she'd published a handful of Young Adult romances for Bantam's Sweet Dreams series and was trying to break into the Regency Romance genre. At that time I was purely a wannabe. I was about halfway into the book that would eventually become Redeeming Gabriel, but wouldn't see publication with Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Romance series until nearly ten years later.
Anyway, Sheri has been publishing those delightful Regency stories with Five Star for quite some time now, and has apparently found her true niche in Regency-set mysteries with the John Pickett series. Too Hot to Handel is the culmination of the slow-burning romance between Julia, Lady Fieldhurst and Bow Street Runner John Pickett. Here's my take on this real treasure of a romantic mystery.
In Which John Pickett Finally Gets What He Deserves…
A conk on the head?
The fifth full-length installment in Sheri Cobb South’s John Pickett Mystery Series, Too Hot to Handel, follows the further adventures of 25-year-old Bow Street Runner John Pickett and his accidental wife, Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, as they track down the perpetrator of a rash of jewel thefts in 1809 London. The action kicks off when, in a sting to catch the thief, John and Julia attend a Lenten production of Handel’s Esther at the Drury Lane Theater. Unfortunately, the theater goes up in flames, John barely survives a head injury while rescuing Julia, and Russian Princess Olga Fyodorovna’s diamond necklace disappears. While nursing John back to health, Julia assists John’s mentor, magistrate Patrick Colquhoun in the investigation—along with prostitute-cum-snitch Lucy Higgins, Julia’s footman, Thomas, and rival Runner Mr. Foote.
With her trademark tight, funny prose and delightful attention to historical detail, South unreels the mystery, even as she deepens the emotional and sexual tension between Julia and her low-born husband. The question of their planned annulment is dealt with deftly, along with Julia’s relationship to her erstwhile (obnoxious) in-laws. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and look forward to the next installment, in which John must meet his in-laws.