3.5 stars. This rating and review is ONLY for “Mrs. Sartin’s Secretary” by Wendy LaCapra. If I read the other stories later, I’ll try to review them. Of course, the rating may change too.
Mrs. Sartin’s Secretary by Wendy LaCapra
When I read book 1 of Wendy LaCapra’s Lords of Chance series titled Scandal in Spades last year, I was blown away not only by Wendy’s beautiful writing but also the story and its protagonists. The H and h shared amazing chemistry that was palpable right from the moment they met. It was a straight winner so I was eagerly waiting for book 2...which turned out to be Heart’s Desire.
While I waited, I heard about Wendy writing a short story in between these two books, somehow connecting to book 2 through its hero, Lord Markham or Heart. But why is Markham called ‘Heart’? I talked about it a bit more elaborately in my review of book 1. In a nutshell, the other heroes of this series formed a group of sort where Markham joins later, and they called each other by sobriquets taken from the cards. The hero of book 1, the Marquess of Bromton Giles went by as Spades. Two of his close friends that will have the next books in the series, Lord Farring and Lord Rayne, are known as Club and Diamond. In that order.
In book 1 I had the hint that Markham, the youngest of them all, was a bit of a rake, hence he was the Hearts. It was said that he never left his lovers wanting. Just how much of a rake, you get a glimpse of it in this really short story here. From the beginning though, I had issues. I had a difficult time connecting this story with the series. For one, Mrs. Sartin or her secretary, the two protagonists were never even introduced in book 1 so I had no earthly idea who they were and why they even had a story to begin with?! Well apart from the fact that it becomes clear very early on that Mrs. Sartin is Markham’s lover. (note here that Mrs. Sartin may well have been briefly introduced in book 1 but I don’t remember her at all so my point stands)
In the end though, Wendy’s note explains that we’ll be seeing more of Mrs. Sartin in Markham’s book, Heart’s Desire. She wanted the lonely widow to have a story so she gave her one.