Burglary and a missing person report disrupt the quiet of Kurland St. Mary in 1816.
Maj. Robert Kurland may be a hero of the Battle of Waterloo, but his broken leg leaves him helpless as a baby. On a sleepless night, he thinks he sees a dark shadow carrying something to the church. His overly solicitous valet, who saved his life in battle, thinks Kurland was seeing something that wasn’t there, thanks to the laudanum that’s been easing his pain. Only Lucy Harrington, the rector’s oldest daughter, takes Kurland seriously. As a substitute mother for her siblings and a general caregiver to the community, she’s already worried since one of her servants has disappeared. Although Lucy doesn’t shrink from the less savory aspects of life, her suspicion that one of her brothers might be involved in a series of burglaries is hard to face. She and Kurland collaborate to find out how a snuffbox, an opened grave, an impoverished curate and a jilted lover are linked to what Kurland saw in this slow-paced Jane Austen imitation that doesn’t omit a single cliché of the genre, including the sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of Lucy’s nose.
A Regency Rear Window whose chair-bound hero and the woman who civilizes him generate a few sparks worthy of Darcy and Elizabeth. But even the harder-edged elements of gambling, drug use and suicidal obsession can’t set this period debut on fire.