A saucy countess leaves English society behind when she ventures to New York City in 1907.
After getting pushed into marrying an older man she disliked, Lady Philomena Dunbridge is now a widow; she has spent two horrible years in mourning, enlivened by only a few discreet romantic interludes. Faced with several unpleasant places to live, she decides to visit Bev Reynolds, an old school friend in New York, taking along her butler, Preswick, and her newly hired maid, Lily, who speaks several languages and carries a hidden stiletto. At the dock, a gunshot rings out as Bev goes to fetch her husband, Reggie, and his car, and Phil arrives just in time to see a horrified Bev staring at the bleeding corpse of Reggie in the arms of his mistress, Mimi LaPonte. When DS John Atkins arrives to investigate, Phil spirits Bev away. Reggie was a wild sort whose only true loves were his racehorses and breeding stable. Since the ruggedly handsome Atkins clearly considers Bev his prime suspect, Phil plays detective in order to free Bev from suspicion despite dire warnings from Atkins, one of the few honest police officers in New York. Matters go from bad to worse when Atkins finds a dead man in Reggie’s study shot with Bev’s gun. Undeterred, Phil buys several books on crime-solving and uses Lily’s lockpicking skills to search Reggie’s study for incriminating evidence. Reggie’s cousin, his stable manager, and a few other pals offer to help Bev, who, despite the fact that Reggie had secretly divorced her and obtained tickets for two to South America, remains his legatee. As Phil seeks gossip in drawing rooms and stables, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. It’s up to her to discover which of Reggie’s many risky activities got him killed before she becomes the next victim.
This delightful series debut is a frisky combination of mystery and romance whose R-rated heroine clearly has a bright and adventurous future.