Series Name: Thorndike & Swann Mysteries, #2

Her hands gripped his shoulders, and his spanned her waist. As she inhaled, he felt the movement of her ribs. Heat rushed into his ears, and his heart tripped. He had never held a woman in such a way. He wanted to draw her close, to put his arms properly around her and protect her, to usher her to safety away from the pandemonium going on around them.

Brazen thoughts for a mere officer of the court to think about the daughter of an earl. 

Full of mystery and intrigue, this is a thrilling slow burn romance set in Regency London.

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street Runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill’s owner dead of an apparent gunshot.

Even though the owner’s daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, it seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can’t take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can, because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage–and his job as a runner–comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him to the fates.

Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha’s bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. Still, her instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation. But circumstances intervene, dropping her into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case–and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.

Ok, I need to be honest. This book is by a christian publishing company and I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. I’m not religious myself, and have never read a lot of religious fiction (other than my odd obsession with YA amish romances in middle school, oddly enough). However, the synopsis of this book really intrigued me. I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to more books in this series. 

I’d say a good comparison to this book is the series Murdoch Mysteries. Like Murdoch, this book has a smart detective with a hapless sidekick, a young and bright woman who our detective is hopelessly in love with, and a terrific bout of mystery and adventure. I would say the religious aspects and insights would also be on par with something like the Murdoch series, where it’s a part of their life and thoughts, but not preachy. Millstone of Doubt is book two in a series, and while I had wished at times I had read the first one before this, I wasn’t completely lost. Erica gives enough bits of the backstory that I was able to understand Juliette and Daniel’s storylines. 

This is a terrific regency romantic suspense story. The novel has clearly been well-researched and is well-developed and layered. There’s a whole spy to the crown angle that Juliette’s family is a part of that was just delightful to read and will clearly be a big part of Juliette’s character development going further in the series. I liked that Juliette and her mother were both spies and that the fun wasn’t just left to the men. Juliette was included, and often exceeded Daniel’s skill level in a lot of the capers they found themselves in. The murder case Daniel and Juliette end up investigating, and the mystery of Daniel’s parentage, which is a major plot point in this story, were such good and interesting suspenses. It’s been a while since I read such a delightful romantic suspense. 

Juliette and Daniel are a slow burn romance. Because this is part of a series, the romance isn’t tied up into a neat bow by the end of the book but they have made progress. This is a very clean and slow romance – the most intimate part of the book is a couple of kisses. Juliette and Daniel are a delightful couple: both as partners in solving mysteries and in their blossoming romantic yearnings. Juliette is 19, and is a young and sheltered 19. I liked that Erica didn’t gloss over everything Juliette, a sheltered girl just returned from boarding school to discover a life of mystery and espionage, still had to learn in life. Juliette is naive but feisty and I really enjoyed her character growth. There’s some class struggles and strife between Lady Juliette, daughter of an Earl, and Daniel, a detective with an unknown father, that I really enjoyed because it dove into the struggles and changes of industrial England as the aristocracy was being challenged. 

I’m really glad I read Millstone of Doubt. It’s a little outside of my normal romance type, but it was such a good story. I can’t wait to continue this series and follow Juliette and Daniel through more mysteries and watch how their relationship develops. 

Thank you Austenprose and Kregel Publications for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.