Love can’t stay buried.
Medical student Cadell Meredith has been known to acquire “volunteers” from the occasional pauper’s grave in order to improve his surgical skills. While the legality of this practice is a bit murky, he wouldn’t go so far as to call it out and out robbery.
His latest acquisition, however, is different. The body on his table was obviously healthy, wealthy—and murdered. Cadell feels compelled to seek justice for the dead man, but while dissection comes naturally to him, crime investigation is unfamiliar territory.
Furthermore, he’s caught the attention of one of those new police officers, Blaine Breton. A handsome, sentimental fool who insists Cadell is a criminal. A criminal! Cadell is the first to admit he’s no saint, but he’s no killer.
A marvelous game of cat and mouse ensues as Cadell seeks to expose the truth while hiding his own secrets. A task that grows ever more difficult as his desire for Breton grows…and the danger deepens.
Warning: This story contains mystery, mayhem, and a male romance that starts off in the most delicious way possible—mutual hostility. Enjoy!
Dear M. Keedwell,
Your book surprised me in the most wonderful way. Friend suggested it to me when I was whining about how much I miss reading good m/m historical romances and it was not even a recommendation, she just saw that the book will be out soon. I preordered on a complete whim and I am so glad I did.
I won’t deny that I was a little nervous to start the book. More often than not (unless the story is humorous) when I see policeman and a suspect being the stars of the story, my eye starts twitching because as a rule I cannot stand policeman forgetting about his work and criminal forgetting all his wits and starting the love affair. Resolve the case, then get together, or quit your job or just don’t be stupid. That’s how I look at it usually, but of course there are exceptions to any rule and good writing can convince me of almost anything.
I thought the author did several clever things with the plot and characterization which made me very happy. No, the characters do not sleep together while they are on different sides of the law so to speak, in fact they do not even kiss till the last part of the last chapter and there is one not very explicit sex scene. So, if you are looking for erotic romance – you won’t find it in this book, although in my opinion when they are on page together there is plenty of sexual tension between them. In fact, I went and read some Goodreads reviews and they state that the book is mostly mystery. I don’t know about that. I mean, it *is* mostly mystery, which Cadell investigates alone, or I should say with some help of some of his friends. Breton is not involved in *this* investigation which Cadell took upon himself till the very end. However because Bretton is trying to prove that Cadell Meredith is robbing graves during ninety percent of the narrative, I always felt his presence in the background, even when he was not here. And when he was there, I thought the tension between the two men was very real and explosive. I thought it was very smart to give the two men the opposite views about some actions that were considered criminal and still make them both likeable in my eyes.
I of course heard before about medical students in the past trying to get the bodies by not very legal means so they could learn the human anatomy better and be better doctors, and here Cadell does it specifically because he wants to be a better surgeon. The action starts in 1829 in London and I suspect it is no coincidence because in three years as Wikipedia told me “The anatomy act” was enacted which gave medical profession some more freedom to use donated bodies for dissection.
But in year 1829 Cadel who is one of the best, brilliant students in his class, who volunteers in his spare time as assistant surgeon to help poor patients, is indeed robbing graves when his acquaintance tells him that somebody new died in the workhouse – somebody without family who could be looking for him. Too bad that during the course of his expedition to the cemetery he almost gets caught by the police constable, and that constable would become an often presence in his life trying at first to catch him in the act, then to get to know him better and then, you know.
Breton is relentless, he finds the reasons to search Cadell’s apartment, he checks out the place of his work, but he cannot find anything, even if he is sure that Cadel is guilty. Pretty soon the men come to verbal blows at least:
“There are those of us living who have had our loved ones murdered…”
Breton winced and his voice broke off. Cadell jumped into the breach. “I would never stoop to murder!”
“But you’re involved, aren’t you? The lot of you are. Hypocritical surgeons with their Hippocratic oath, winking at murdered corpses being let through with no questions asked, and you…”
Cadell’s throat tightened as Breton stalked over. He backed away with every forward step until his back hit the cardboard and Breton’s outstretched arms trapped him.
“How can you? Stealing bodies and mutilating them, with no thought or respect for the feelings of those who loved them.”
“Oh God what sentimental drivel,” Cadell snapped. He eyed Breton’s lips near his and looked away. “Those used are criminals, or those without family to mourn them. It’s not ideal, but what other choice is there?” He heaved an exasperated sigh as Breton’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, you’re all so indignant and moral over it, until it’s your turn to face a surgeon whose only practical experience is cutting up paper-mache! There are not enough bodies provided from hanging victims to produce competent surgeons with adequate experience.”
“That’s the law.”
“The laws are wrong!”
I cut the last part of this conversation because the tension clearly becomes sexual even if it does not go anywhere till the end of the book, but if you are interested you can check it out yourself .
I really liked that for the conflict between them the author chose the issue which may have not been legal, but I was still fully on Cadel’s side.
Cadell may be snarky and claim that he did not like people, but when he starts to think about people whom he considers friends, turns out that he does love and care for them, even if he only had a few. But like people or not he still wants to help him by being a competent doctor, who knows what he was doing.
And Breton learns that Cadell is not that bad of a person either.
“I’m so glad I could entertain you,” he finally said. “I do it all for applause.”
“Not according to the hospital porter,” Breton replied. “ I have just been subjected to the most nauseating account of you, regularly giving up your time to minister to the indigent of London for free.”
Cadell’s eyes widened. Could that be… respect? Reluctantly given, disbelieving, but …respect? He could feel his face turn red. “Don’t paint me up all pretty,” he retorted, “I do it for the practice.” Then realization dawned. “You were trying to scrape something damning about me from him, weren’t you?”
The devious bastard. “Take some cyanide,” he snapped. “For the nausea. It’ll work wonders, and make me feel a whole lot better.” He stormed his way down to the road, Breton’s low chuckle trailing behind him.”
But what about the mystery that Cadell was investigating? As blurb states he became suspicious about the body of the man he found during his trip to the cemetery when Bretton almost caught him and decided that he owed the dead guy something – justice of some sort. I actually was not initially sure why Cadell decided to get involved (unless he was significantly more conflicted about grave robbing than he claimed – good moral purpose and all) but once he gets involved, he was all in. In fact he realized that solving this murder became his obsession. Acting as amateur sleuth Cadell does not really care about legalities of some things either. He starts his career of amateur sleuth from stealing Bretton’s constable coat so he could pretend to be one when he asks questions about the murder for example. Investigation was suitably complex , Cadell was showing both his best qualities (really sharp mind) and worst ones too (thinking he knew best and getting in some really dangerous situations). I liked how we were shown that he caught on one of the villains almost from the very beginning, but had to uncover the motivations and the real culprits were not revealed till almost the very end.
At the same time, when the mystery was done, something bothered me which I could not quite put my finger on. Lack of deep impact on the hero? I mean he talks about what this investigation did to him, how understanding the victim brought him back to living, made him care about new friends, but I guess I did not see that it was such a change? I thought he was a deeply caring person from the very beginning anyway even if he was willing to do illegal stuff to help people and what he said did not really feel like a revelation.
Had no issues with resolution of romantic storyline though.