Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.
All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.
Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.
“The Innkeeer’s Daughter” follows the story of Johanna, proprietor of the run-down Blue Hedge Inn, and Alex, an officer of the Bow Street Runners. At first, I was confused by the nature of Alex’s position because I had never heard of the Bow Street Runners. Cited as the first police force of London and a precursor to Scotland Yard, the Bow Street Runners revolutionized crime fighting in London. Prior to their existence, citizens were expected to help catch criminals and take them to the parish constables and night watchmen. The Bow Street Runners, led by Henry Fielding, would apprehend criminals and take them back to Bow Street to stand trial. It’s under this backdrop that we meet Alex, a Bow Street Runner assigned the task to apprehend an unknown traitor who is feeding information about the English to the French. Alex poses as an elite purveyor of fine wines as he works undercover to unearth the traitor. During this time, he stays at the fledgling Blue Hedge Inn, which is under the management of Johanna, her mother, and her little brother, Alex. Johanna is struggling to keep the inn afloat and has only weeks before her debt is recalled, leading her to a potential trip to the workhouse. That is, until a she meets a handsome wine purveyor that will change her life forever…
I loved the developing love story between Alex and Johanna. While it was apparent from the start that they would end up together, it was fun reading through the journey of how they got there. With that being said, the plot got rather complex at times, and it was hard to sift through the vast cast of characters. There were a lot of twists and turns in the story, and I can honestly say that I was left guessing who the traitor was until the very end.
“The Innkeeper’s Daughter” contained more action than I was anticipating, and I love how the author used the character of Mr. Nutbrown to both drive the action and provide comic relief. The reader first encounters Mr. Nutbrown at the Blue Hedge Inn, where he is dodging Johanna so that he doesn’t have to pay his rent. Mr. Nutbrown speaks exclusively through Nixie, a handmade puppet he wears everywhere and views as a real person. Mr. Nutbrown and Nixie unwittingly become mixed up in the traitor’s plot, and I couldn’t help but view him (or them, rather) as endearing “bad guys.”
Overall, I enjoyed “The Innkeeper’s Daughter” and my introduction to The Bow Street Runners series. While I would definitely read the next book in the series, it may not be one that I am so impatient to read that I run out and buy it on release day. I give this book 3.5/5 stars.