Stella Cameron returns to the slightly crazy world of Number 7, Mayfair Square, for this, her fourth book in the series. Having successfully married off Finch More, along with Meg and Sybil Smiles, it is Latimer More’s turn to be offered on the altar of matrimony.
As fans of this series will already know, Number 7 is populated with an assortment of misfits, nutcases, and eccentrics, all under the domineering eye of Lady Hester. The spirit of Sir Septimus Spivey, which resides in one of the elegantly carved balusters, provides the plot device that binds these stories together, and here, I have to confess, I find a problem. Septimus Spivey is rather a nuisance. I don’t find his antics particularly amusing, and his interruptions distract my attention from the story. Ignoring him is difficult, which is a shame, because this particular episode has a nicely written plot and some charming characters.
Latimer has been paying more and more attention to Miss Jenny McBride, whom readers will remember as one of the Ladies’ group (they investigated all sorts of quite naughty gentleman-related stuff in earlier novels!). Although Jenny makes her living as a milliner’s assistant, Latimer grows increasingly convinced that she’s the one for him. In typical Stella Cameron fashion, their sensual involvement grows passionate and steamy – Stella really does these intimate moments exceedingly well. Jenny is plagued with troubles – and haunted by a couple of very unpleasant characters, and it requires all the help that she and Latimer can call on to solve the mystery and save her from the villains.
I am finding it hard to express a lot of my reactions to this story – I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, More and More, and have to admit to being disappointed in the following tales. The plots have seemed to be unnecessarily fussy – odd characters and unusual occurrences have proved less than satisfactory. Most often, the romance alone could have held the story together, without all the additional complications and plot twists that were thrown in. Here, on the other hand, the story is quite simple – anyone who enjoys historical Regencies will identify the real villain of the piece without a great deal of difficulty. Yet Stella Cameron loves her red herrings and has to toss one or two into the pot. Perhaps it is the use of a kinder, gentler plot that takes the edge off this book – that, plus the fact that Jenny and Latimer are such nice people that outside of bed they can be a little boring! Perhaps I just need to lower my expectations a bit, and realize that just because a series of books starts with a bang it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that each following novel will be as great. This is a charming tale; I’d recommend reading it after the others in the series, because familiarity with the household and its characters is a definite plus. Perhaps not the best of the series, but certainly worth a few hours of your time.