ORDER A COPY: The Secrets of Mia Danvers: A Dangerous Liaisons Novel (InterMix)
Publishing Date: June 18, 2013
eBook: 301 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Since losing her sight in a childhood accident, Mia Danvers has resided in a small cottage on the vast Carrington estate. Thought to be dead, Mia lives a life of virtual seclusion—until one night, while walking home, she happens upon a horrendous crime.
Alex Foster, Eighth Duke of Carrington, lives according to society’s expectations for him. He’s never met the woman who lives in the cottage at the edge of his property. But when she arrives at his door in the pouring rain terrified and claiming she has witnessed a murder, she seizes his attention.
Mia is determined to help the authorities track down the culprit, even though the only person willing to accept her aid is the handsome, arrogant duke. Working closely together proves difficult as Mia’s beauty and independence tempts Alex to ignore convention and follow his desire. But what neither of them know is that this murderer has struck before in Whitechapel, taunting the British press only to vanish—a ruthless killer who knows that Mia is the only living witness to his crime.
Mia Danvers was only 16 when she was dropped off at the little cottage on the edge of the property belonging to the Duke of Carrington by her mothers and sisters. After a riding accident left her without sight, her mother didn’t have time for a damaged daughter who would never find a husband. She had two other girls who needed to find husbands to support the family now that their father was dead. Although her mother intended to leave Mia there alone, her governess and dearest friend Rachel would not abandon her and together the two women made a life in the little cottage that would become a place for Mia to spread her wings.
Mia didn’t allow her sightlessness to stop her from living her life, a life that was no longer hampered by the stringent rules that society had on young women. No one concerned themselves with anything the blind woman did. Before her accident, she was an artist. Although she may no longer be able to draw or paint, she now focused her artistic ability to the art of sculpting, and was able to sell some of her pieces to allow her and Rachel to live a very modest but content life.
Mia has learned to use her other senses in order to compensate for her lack of sight. As time went by, Mia became quite familiar with her cottage and gardens on the edge of Covent Gardens, and she was frequently able to leave her cottage and adventure around the surrounding areas and liked to go to the statuary garden of Hyde Park, using her sense of touch to enjoy the artistry of others.
It was one night while walking alone in the dark along the hedges on the edge of the property that she happened upon the commission of horrible murder. Although she could not see it, she witnessed every grisly detail: hearing the cries of the victim, the tearing of the knife through cloth and flesh, the odd smell surrounding the murderer, and his haunting whistle after a job well done.
Mia knows that she must be whatever she can to help the poor woman find justice. She might not have seen the murderer, but she knew what he smelled like, how he walked. She runs to the current Duke, Lord Alex Carrington, and tells him what she has witnessed. He, of course, denies the possibility of Mia “witnessing” anything since he has always been told the woman on the edge of his property is mad. When the girl’s body is found, he is convinced that Mia knew something, but he believes the police will disbelieve her witness account as he did simply because of her handicap. He is willing to bring the information to the police’s attention but he insists on keeping Mia out of the investigation.
But secrets never remain secret for long and it is no long before the killer learns that the police have a witness to his crime. He realizes that it is time for him to meet Miss Danvers and to silence her before she might actually point the police to him and spoil his game. Yet once he finds out that his witness is blind, he decides it would be more enjoyable to engage in a playful game of cat and mouse with the pretty Miss Danvers before it’s her time to die.
I love a strong heroine like Mia. Her family abandons her to the little cottage, never to return to check on her, but nine years later, although she is impoverished, we find her flourishing living with her friend Rachel and creating her sculptures. She might have lost her sight but she has not lost her spirit or her drive for more.
There was a definite spark between Mia and Alex but Alex’s constant self-reproach that although he wanted to be with Mia, he couldn’t marry her and she was lady so he couldn’t ruin her, got tedious. I believe we got to hear his speech to himself every time he spent 5 minutes with Mia.
Mia is more level-headed and understanding that he needed to chose a proper (capable) Duchess, but she also understands that she really doesn’t have a chance to be around men, especially men she finds as attractive and interesting as Alex, and she is more than willing to sleep with Alex and enjoy a brief time with him.
As characters go, I thought Mia earned a 5 star to Alex’s 3, so I have settled on a 4 star review. It was an interesting story and kept me entertained. I also enjoyed the side story of Alex’s friend being the man that Rachel didn’t marry 10 years ago and once he finds Rachel on Alex’s property, he first wants revenge for her turning him down, but then he realizes he can’t let her get away again.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
Perhaps it was best she could not see her own reflection. She had carved a bust of her own likeness. At least how she imaged herself. It was the first piece she’d created when she’d decided to try her hand at a different medium of art. She’d never shared it with anyone save Rachel. It simply sat in her own bedchamber, a constant reminder to her of what she was capable of despite her own family’s disbelief in her worth.
With her carving knife, she gently shaved off clay near the jaw line, using her fingers to smooth the lines, soften the face as she progressed. She knew Diana was the goddesss of the hunt so in most pictures she was depicted carrying a bow and arrow, often with an animal. But with only a bust to work with, that would be more difficult, to add in those elements without the full-scale image.
Sculpting women was more challenging than men, but they were also in far more demand as best she could tell. And mistates were expensive; she couldn’t afford to carve off too much. She dipped her hand in the water and dampened the clay.
“What are you doing out here in the chill?” a voice said from behind her.
Startled, she grabbed the tool with her other hand to prevent it from digging into the clay. “Lord Carrington,” she said.
His footsteps moved from behind her to stand in front of her. She didn’t rise from her seat at the table, and she made no move to set down her sculpture. But she also didn’t intend to keep working while he stood there and watched her. His presence was distracting, not that she wanted him to know that, so she held tight to the clay in one hand and her caring knife in the other.
“Is there something I can do for you?” she asked.
“What are you doing?” he repeated.
“Sculpting.” She frowned at him. “I had hoped it was obvious. Perhaps I’m not as talented as I’ve been led to believe.” She set down the knife, then wiped her hand on the towel she kept draped across her lap.
“No, that’s not it. I didn’t know, that is, I simply didn’t realize,” he continued to fumble over his words and she had to admit that in that moment there was a sort of boyish charm about him, lurking just beneath the exterior gruff. She could almost imagine him standing there shifting his weight from one foot to the next, trying not to say the wrong thing. “I mean how can you…”
“How can I sculpt when I cannot see?” she finished for him.
“Yes,” he said, not backing away from his inquiry. She imagined then he would round his proud shoulder as he uttered the word with boldness.
“It is a legitimate question,” she said. “I was an artist before. Before I lost my sight.” She smiled. “Well, as much as a girl of fifteen can be an artist. I loved art and I was quite talented, with both pencil drawings and watercolor painting. But obviously paper will not work for me any longer. Now I have to feel it.” She moved her hand over the clay. “See here, here is where I’ll put her eyes, then her nose, her cheeks, mouth. It took me several days to get her hair, these curls, just so.” She set the bust down and stood. Again she wiped her hands, this time more thoroughly, removing any residue of clay. For her it made no difference, but she knew that for others it mattered if it appeared that she was paying attention, looking at them.
“You’ve done with before?” he asked, something akin to wonder edged his voice. “Sculpted other busts?”
“Indeed. Many times. I have been sculpting for nearly four years now. Though I have only begun recently to sell some pieces. Most of my completed pieces are available for sale in a small shop in Piccadilly.”
“Her hair is rather nice, he said. “Looks quite life-like, well, if you account for the grayness of her.”