The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.
Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes…
If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…
What I liked: I do not read very many historical romance novels any longer except for a very few. Ms Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Jayne Castle) just happens to be on my short list. Here's why....Her characters are always inventive, likable, and have quirks that make them interesting. Her story settings while historical in nature have a fresh, current feel.
In Garden of Lies, the heroine, Mrs (widow) Ursula Kern has a few scandalous secrets but a thriving business in providing highly trained secretaries to those in need and who can pay the price. What I like about Ursula is she takes care of her employees and ensures her clients do not take advantage of her secretaries. While she is a widow, like most women of the time period, she seems a bit naive in certain instances. Having said that, there are a few instances where I cracked up at the round about way some of the characters talked about sex and orgasms. Ms Quick can turn the language of the time period into an integral part of the storyline by providing unlimited humor. For example, quoted passage from a conversation between Ursula and Slater after making love for the first time.
[Ursula] "I believe I experienced what the doctors refer to as a paroxysm. A cathartic paroxysm.
[Slater] I'm not sure I could even spell paroxysm. What the devil is that?"
She paused to glare at him. "You know what I mean. A physical...release."
"Are you trying to tell me that you experienced a climax?"
She raised her chin. "The medical profession calls it a paroxysm when it happens in women. I suppose they don't think it's possible that women are capable of actually experiencing pleasure in the way that men do so they give it label that makes it sound more like a case of shattered nerves."
(My Mom was very old fashioned about everything to do with the way the female body works. I could almost see the two of us having this conversation.) It's even funnier when Ursula and her secretary are talking about going to a doctor to get relief with the "vibration method". I about died laughing.
What I didn't like: Ms Quick's historical romances are pretty formulaic which might bother some readers but I always enjoy the characters and the conversations in these books.
Garden of Lies is a very quick read but tons of fun with some mystery and a dash of danger. I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't expect anything less from Ms Quick!