Monday, October 13, 2014
**New Release Review ~ A Matter of Grave Concern ~ Brenda Novak**
A Matter of Grave Concern
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 5 Suspenseful Bookworms
When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He's worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang's conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack's trust. He's determined to find out what happened to Madeline - and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.
Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father's career. She believes she is going to be successful - until Jack double-crosses her. Then she's swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan...or his heart.
It's been a long while since I read a good Victorian era historical romance. A Matter of Grave Concern is so, so good. It has mystery, intrigue, and two main characters who are strong, willful, and determined, and the sexual tension/chemistry between them is fantastic.
Abigail Hale is the daughter of the chief surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine. She is an unconventional young woman, to say the least. She has been raised by a distant father while living at the college, being exposed to medical academia, and attending lectures. Abby dreams of admission to the medical school and following in her father's footsteps rather than marrying and the tedious life that would entail. It is because of this dream, and the duties she takes on at the medical school that she happens to meet Max Wilder.
Max Wilder is a member of the London Supply Company. When he and Abby first meet, he's delivering a corpse to Aldersgate. Max is certainly handsome and seemingly well-educated. He's also cunning and manages to take more from Abby than the ten guineas the corpse should have cost her. He also manages to protect her from the less than honorable intentions of the leader of his group of resurrection men. But as we get to know Max, we see there's more than meets the eye - he has a few secrets.
The London Supply Company provides a service to medical colleges that is important, necessary, and illegal. This period of time in London, medical schools receive cadavers for study from the government. Those hanged, for example. However, there aren't enough to go around and as it's a requirement to have studied anatomy and dissection to obtain a medical degree, the resurrection men fill in the supply...by, as their name implies, resurrecting, or robbing, graves. This historical element really added that much more depth to this story.
Of course, the resurrection men weren't necessarily honorable men and after the first meeting between Abby and the body snatching men of the London Supply Company, Abby finds herself held against her will, at least initially, and then working alongside Max to solve the mystery that brought him to Wapping in the first place.
As this is an historical romance, I quite enjoyed the evolution of Max and Abby's relationship. The sparks were flying from their first meeting as Abby speaks her mind and never does what Max expects her to. But the mystery and intrigue elements made for a much more complex, rich read. There were twists and red herrings thrown about that had me constantly second-guessing what I thought I'd had figured out. And as it turned out, I was wrong.
A Matter of Grave Concern was enormously entertaining. I've read and enjoyed Novak's contemporaries but I think I enjoyed this historical even more. I'm certainly going to be checking out her other historicals. If you like historical romance that incorporates interesting history along with the romance, I highly recommend this one.