Legions of Stephanie Laurensí devoted fans have been waiting patiently for Barnaby Adairís own story. The wait is over, and I can happily state that it was worth every minute! Where the Heart Leads may be Ms. Laurensí best book to date, well worth twice the five-rose review I can endow upon it.
Four orphaned boys have disappeared from the East End. This, in itself, is not uncommon, but the circumstances surrounding their disappearance are troubling. Each boy had been accepted into the Foundling Home training program, and knew that when their guardians died, someone from the school would come to get them. Someone else came first, and took the boys away. Penelope Ashford, the home administrator, fears foul play and turns to the one man who may help her. She hopes she can keep her usual reaction to the handsome man in check. He makes her feel breathless and off balance, not her usual way of dealing with people.
Barnaby Adair, currently between cases, is looking for a way to avoid his matchmaking mother when Penelope arrives with her problem. He is intrigued by the story, and distracted by the compelling Miss Ashford. His previous cases have introduced him to her family, and her keen intelligence and direct manner leave little room for doubt that she is just like her older sister Portia. She intends to look for these boys with or without his help. She is a dangerous combination, apparently even more so to Barnaby, who keeps thinking about kissing those ruby lips.
Penelope decided long ago that marriage was not for her, since she had no intention of giving up her interests to become a bored society matron. Barnaby is not against marriage, but wants the kind of relationships he has seen among his friends, the Cynsters. They view marriage as a full partnership, a sharing of strength and commitment, grounded in a deep abiding love. Perhaps the answer has arrived, without a chaperone, on his doorstep.
Where the Heart Leads will take readers into the center of Londonís notorious East End, where all kinds of criminal activity takes place, and introduces some unforgettable characters. The romance is primary of course, but the well-crafted plot keeps the book moving along at a quick pace. It was with great reluctance that I read those final paragraphs, knowing that I had reached the end of this outstanding story.