Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Lady Has a Past by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cover #5
Published by Berkley on May 4, 2021
Genres: Historical Romance
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Investigative apprentice Lyra Brazier, the newest resident of Burning Cove, is unsettled when her boss suddenly goes on a health retreat at an exclusive spa and disappears without another word. Lyra knows something has happened to Raina Kirk, and she is the only one who can track her down. The health spa is known for its luxurious offerings and prestigious clientele, and the wealthy, socialite background Lyra desperately wanted to leave behind is perfect for this undercover job. The agency brings in a partner and bodyguard for her, but she doesn't get the suave, pistol-packing private eye she expected.
Simon Cage is a mild-mannered antiquarian book dealer with a quiet, academic air, and Lyra can't figure out why he was chosen as her partner. But it soon becomes clear when they arrive at the spa and pose as a couple: Simon has a unique gift that allows him to detect secrets, a skill that is crucial in finding Raina.
The unlikely duo falls down a rabbit hole of twisted rumors and missing socialites, discovering that the health spa is a façade for something far darker than they imagined. With a murderer in their midst, Raina isn't the only one in grave danger—Lyra is next.
After encountering Luther Pell and Raina Kirk from the beginning of the Burning Cove series, I was semi disappointed they hadn’t gotten their own story yet and seemed to be relegated to fascinating side characters as new characters were introduced. Not that I didn’t love these new stories and characters supremely well. Imagine my excitement when this one introduced a new pair, but the heart of the story was the mystery of Raina’s past and so there were two couples working on the new case and the case was Raina’s disappearance.
The Lady Has a Past is the fifth in a series that can easily be read standalone or even jump in and start out of order though, yes, there is a flowing development of characters and background themes through the series.
So, yes! Raina was already something of a dark horse, even though she is a tough lady detective in the middle of things going on around Burning Cove and she is in a relationship of sorts with an even darker horse in night club owner, former spy and associate to the mob, Luther Pell. I’ve enjoyed this pair throughout the series and always wanted more. This story delivers on Raina’s past while Luther continues to be something of an enigma. Perhaps that isn’t a bad thing because I’ll still be eager to seek what comes next for him.
The story begins with the introduction of Lyra Brazier, the sister of the heroine in book four, who has decided to apprentice as a detective under Raina. Lyra is on her first assignment- a soft ball job to deliver news to a client about her husband when she walks in on a domestic- husband is trying to throttle wife in the pool and Lyra has to think quick before becoming his new victim.
But, just after this initiation to detective work, Lyra’s boss, Raina, gets some news that has her rushing out of town and disappearing. Luther is beside himself and that is never good, but he wisely brings in one of his contracted investigators, Simon Cage, who is more than he seems, to partner with the rookie detective, Lyra.
I enjoyed this one because the sparks really fly between the seasoned, skilled, but jaded Simon and the newbie, but highly intuitive, Lyra. He has the know-how, but she is willing to learn even if it grates on her to admit it to Simon and she wants to establish that she has something to bring to the team, too. Lyra can get anyone to talk to her and taciturn Simon has more methodical methods of work. They rub each other wrong, but still click and the attraction is crackling between them. Meanwhile, there are glimpses of Raina’s situation and she is certain her past has caught up with her.
The 1930’s glamorous world of the series shifts from Old Hollywood to a hotel and health spa out on the desert that caters to the wealthy and glamorous. The backdrop is there, but takes a backseat to the clandestine goings on at the spa, the investigation, and Simon and Lyra.
The mystery centered around Raina’s disappearance which they can’t just investigate in the open because it might get her hurt so there is a cloak and dagger aspect to the affair. But, like past books in the series, there are some twists and some intense moments mixed with a spicy romance.
All in all, it was another hit. I’ve come to anticipate each installment and find myself relaxing into these historical mysteries blended with an equally strong dose of romance. The author paints a good picture of the time and her characters fit it well. Definitely a series I can recommend to others.