Sins of Midnight by Kimberly Logan
(Avon Books, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-06-079256-6
Lady Jillian's life is quite different from that of other young society ladies in 19th century England. Instead of being the belle of the ball, she's sleuthing for the Bow Street Runners and trying to solve the mystery of her mother's murder. Jillian's habit of wearing breeches and sticking her nose into unsavory business only fuels the gossip surrounding the Daventry family. But Jillian's promised to change her ways -- at least for her younger sister Maura's Season.

Her resolve is quickly tested when her friends at Bow Street point her in the direction of handsome businessman Connor Monroe. Monroe is sexy, witty and deadly to know, it seems. For suddenly those closest to him are turning up dead, and the main lead in the case just happens to be the only living witness to Jillian's mother's murder. Not even Maura is enough to keep Jillian away from this case.

The only problem is that Connor isn't interested in her help. In his mind, a female shouldn't be involved in such gruesome matters -especially a female he's beginning to care about. When everyone he loves is being butchered, can he risk falling for Jillian?

While Sins of Midnight has an interesting hook -- tracking a serial killer before the use of modern investigative techniques, fans of the mystery genre will be a bit disappointed. Jillian comes in after most of the murders have been committed and the solution is a bit obvious, even to the most casual of mystery buffs.

But Logan's latest isn't billed as a mystery, it's a romance and that part doesn't disappoint. Connor and Jillian are instantly drawn to each other. One can't help but think that this is mainly because of their gruesome pasts. Jillian is very aware of the destructive nature of love, after all her mother was killed while running off with a lover. And Connor suffered horrible abuse at the hands of his stepfather, a man his mother loved more than her own sons. Both sense a kindred spirit in the other.

What really excited me about this book is the heroine. Jillian isn't just brave; she's intelligent. Her criminology work is based more on skill and observation than on fumbling detective work. Jillian isn't a "too stupid too live" type of heroine, who foolishly risks her life at every turn, but she does acknowledge that there are things worth risking it all: first her family, and then Connor.

She seemed very real, which is a refreshing change from most "fools rush in" heroines who always manage to escape real danger at the last minute. Readers looking for a strong, intelligent heroine will enjoy Sins of Midnight.

--Amanda Waters

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