Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Whether it’s visiting a vibrant Italian-American salon in Elmont, New York, dancing the tango in Seville, or observing a steamy calendar shoot with hot NYC firefighters, Cat Gardiner’s contemporary Pride and Prejudice stories are incredible and memorable adventures. In her fourth book, Undercover, Ms. Gardiner takes readers on a sojourn to 1952 and introduces them to a world of fedoras, smoke, hot joints, and crime detectives.
Elizabeth Bennet, a tenacious private eye with a copious amounts of moxie and brains, has been on the hunt for the man she believes kidnapped (and possibly murdered) her best friend. She met George Wickham years ago and she knows he is guilty of all sorts of crimes, but what Elizabeth doesn’t know is where is he now and what he did with Mary King? After receiving a tip from one of her reliable informants the trail for “Slick Wick” is hot once again. But there seems to be someone else interested in Slick Wick’s actions…the reserved and brooding Fitzwilliam Darcy, the wealthy son of a former senator. What is his connection to Slick Wick? What does he have to hide? You can be sure this clever dame will find out!
This recreation of Elizabeth Bennet is my hero! Career girl, independent, determined, and quick as a whip – she has the assets and charm to get whatever she wants from whoever she wants! I loved witnessing her close relationship with Oscar the restaurant owner and Detective Brandon (the only flat foot who respects her profession). They both flirt and tease, but I like how Elizabeth (even though she is a gorgeous siren with “a body made for sin”) doesn’t “give it up for just any man.” A true lady professional earning respect and achieving results in a man’s world – she is a marvel!
Other parts of the story that I thoroughly enjoyed were the atmosphere, the banter, and the sexy smoldering between Darcy and Elizabeth. I think Ms. Gardiner wonderfully captured the essence of a noir – her story was smoky, misty, and steamy. With her evocative language and descriptions, I imagined the story in black and white in my head with just small flashes of color for Lizzy’s ruby-red lips. 😉 Speaking of flapping lips, the quick and provocatively-charged exchanges between Darcy and Lizzy almost gave me whiplash! These two are definitely hard-boiled and their flirtatious banter and smoldering looks could heat up an igloo. Lizzy may be a femme fatale, but I think she’s met her match with this brooding and enigmatic Mr. Darcy! (Warning: contains intimate scenes and descriptions suitable for Mature Audiences.)
Now, while I absolutely adored this novel and thoroughly enjoyed the unique setting and inventive premise, I did notice that I didn’t feel as emotionally invested with these characters as I did with Ms. Gardiner’s previous novels. Both these characters were interesting and there were some mentions of their pasts, but I guess there wasn’t enough there to help me feel fully connected to them. I’m sorry to hold Ms. Gardiner to such a high standard, but it is her own fault! 😉 Her previous novels and complex characters were so captivating and consuming!
Communist schemes, sizzling chemistry, and solving crimes – Cat Gardiner’s Austen-Inspired noir mystery is an enthralling adventure that envelopes readers in the sights, sounds, and realities of another time and world. I loved the combination of intrigue, history, danger, and scorching-hot romance! Thank you, Ms. Gardiner for another supremely creative and engrossing tale!
PS – loved the glossary of crime detective terms! Super helpful!
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