Quick (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz) returns to merry olde Regency- era England (Mischief, 1996, etc.) for more romantic doings. When it comes to the opposite sex, Charlotte Arkendale is already jaded, even though she's just reached the tender age of 25. And she's got good reason: Her stepfather not only stole and squandered her late mother's inheritance, but he tried to sell a night with her younger sister Ariel to a man he owed money to; what prevented the dastardly deal was Charlotte's appearance in the hallway with what only she knew was an unloaded gun. It's this experience, and her stepfather's murder that very same evening, that leads Charlotte to found her own business--a shocking matter in itself in 18th-century England: helping single women investigate men who wish to marry them, just to be sure that these would-be husbands aren't gamblers, thieves, or fortune hunters. When one of Charlotte's clients, the promiscuous Drusilla Heskett, is murdered in her own home, Charlotte feels compelled to hunt down the killer; she's joined in this quest by Baxter St. Ives, a well-to-do gentleman whose sister was a friend of the late Miss Heskett. Baxter and Charlotte, as it turns out, have an enemy in common, a man known as Morgan Judd, who shares Baxter's obsession with chemistry but also dabbles in black magic. Baxter's younger half- brother, the soon-to-be Lord Esherton (Baxter and Morgan are both bastards, which caused them automatically to bond with each other at Oxford before Morgan turned bad), gets himself involved inadvertently with Morgan. It will take all of Charlotte and Baxter's powers to ensure that the good survive and the evil are punished. Skillful, lively storytelling, with a heroine who'd be compelling in any era.