Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and, as always, be wary of spoilers.
Montague has devoted his life to managing the wealth of London’s elite, but at a huge cost: a family of his own. Then the enticing Miss Violet Matcham seeks his help, and in the puzzle she presents him, he finds an intriguing new challenge professionally … and personally.
Violet, devoted lady-companion to the aging Lady Halstead, turns to Montague to reassure her ladyship that her affairs are in order. But the famous Montague is not at all what she’d expected – this man is compelling, decisive, supportive, and strong – everything Violet needs in a champion, a position to which Montague rapidly lays claim.
But then Lady Halstead is murdered and Violet and Montague, aided by Barnaby Adair, Inspector Stokes, Penelope, and Griselda, race to expose a cunning and cold-blooded killer.who stalks closer and closer. Will Montague and Violet learn the shocking truth too late to seize their chance at enduring love?
I’ve been waiting for another Barnaby Adair novel for what feels like ages now, so when I first read the blurb for The Masterful Mr. Montague, I was a little disappointed. Not because it didn’t seem to hint at an interesting story line, but because the mention of Barnaby and Penelope and the gang seemed like an after thought. After reading the blurb I thought the novel would focus more on the story between Violet and Montague, but once I read the book I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was very, very wrong. :)
The novel’s got a nice balance between the Barnaby and Penelope romance and mystery angle, and the budding romance between Violet and Montague. We get to see how Penelope and Barnaby are adjusting to married life, but they are the same mystery pursuing couple as they were in Where the Heart Leads (the first Casebook of Barnaby Adair novel). We also get some Cynster action in this novel, and while I did miss seeing Devil Cynster, I was happy to catch-up with the Cynster ladies.
The mystery elements in this novel were well-developed. There didn’t seem to be an obvious suspect, so it was great working alongside the characters to figure out the identity of Lady Halstead’s killer. Every time I felt like I got close to figuring out the killer, I was thrown for a loop – in a good way!
The romance between Violet and Montague was also pleasant and sweet, but for me personally Barnaby and Penelope stole the show. And then, of course, there was Stokes and Griselda…Griselda stood out a lot more in this novel than the previous one, and we get to know her character more slowly.
I know I’ve made a lot of references to Where the Heart Leads, so I know the obvious question now is: Can this be read as a standalone? Yes, absolutely! The characters are reintroduced in this novel for new readers and, though for me the experience of having read the first novel made me appreciate this one all the more, the story is self-contained.
Overall, I give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 for being an unpredictable read while, at the same time, letting me catch up with much-loved characters!
(aka The ARC Devourer)