Michelle Marcos's Gentlemen Behaving Badly (St. Martin's) continues her 'Pleasure Emporium' series. The very plain Mina Halliday writes letters to wealthy gentlemen that intrigue them enough to sample the wares at the Pleasure Emporium, but she's written a more personally-driven letter now, to Lord Roderick Prescott, the man she believes arranged for her father's wrongful arrest and imprisonment, trying to draw him out to find out for sure. But Prescott winds up dead, and Chief Constable Salter Lambrick is on the case, wondering just who the woman is who wrote such a suggestive letter to the murder victim. To discover her connection to Prescott, Salter poses as the man and heads to the Pleasure Emporium to meet her. The woman whose name is on the letter is most definitely not the author, he discovers, and he's certain he knows it was Mina, who intrigues him. When both are forced to admit to their ulterior motives, they team up, sort of, to find out just what Prescott was involved in and who killed him. For a story set in and around a bordello, this one is remarkably sweet, rather than sensual. Early on, I found myself wanting to skip ahead in the reading, mostly because I didn't feel any real connection to Mina. She didn't grab me and make me want to cheer her on in her quest. And Salter's late-revealed secret felt like just a contrivance to keep them apart a bit longer. I didn't love this one, I'm afraid. It was an intriguing idea, but just didn't play out the way I'd hoped, or in a way that would make this one a keeper. It's earned only two of Cupid's five arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!