The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen
ISBN: 9781629729275 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781649330284 (ebook)
ASIN: B09FCF33R7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B094YR2Z2X (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery | Inspirational Fiction
Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe―a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.
Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.
When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband―Harold Radcliffe―of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.
They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.
Read an excerpt:
Chapter 3: pp. 11-14
Michael leaned against his desk as he fastened his cuffs. He looked at the empty desk and hoped he would do his friend proud, that he would reach the end of his life knowing he had carried Stanley’s responsibilities to the very last.
Stanley had been the lighter of the two of them, the hap-pier. He’d always teased Michael for being too serious, and he’d been one of the few who made him truly laugh. Michael’s serious nature had settled in with a vengeance after Stanley died, and while he was aware of it, he was at a loss about how to fix it. He wasn’t sure he wanted it to be fixed. If he kept the lightness at bay, the darkness wasn’t nearly so noticeable when it descended.
As he straightened and shrugged into his jacket, he looked at the open file on his desk with Nathaniel Winston’s sketch inside. After hours of work, Michael believed the victim’s name was Marie Verite Radcliffe; her husband had reported her missing the day before. When Winston arrived, the two of them would go to the address provided and speak with Mr. Radcliffe. They would show him a photograph of the deceased woman that had been taken earlier at the morgue and then quickly developed. He would watch the man’s reaction and gauge the showing of shock and grief. He hoped it would be genuine. Everyone grieved differently, but sometimes . . . sometimes it rang false, and Michael simply knew.
He heard Winston’s chuckle in the outer room and glanced up to see him through the glass in the door. Michael had been irrationally resentful when Winston transferred from another division to fill the vacancy left by Stanley’s death. But, while the bond with Winston would never be the same as the one he’d had with Stanley, they got on well, and Winston had been wise enough to ease his way into the department with subtlety.
Winston entered the office and nodded. “Quite the crowd out there today.”
“Indeed. Not so strange for a Friday, however.”
Winston started to shrug out of his greatcoat but paused, motioning toward the paperwork on Michael’s desk. “The new victim’s file?”
“Yes. Not much in it, but I believe we might have a name. Have you time for a visit?”
“Absolutely.” He settled his greatcoat back on his shoulders with a smile. “Have we received word from the coroner’s office?”
“Just the photo of the deceased taken this morning. I believe Neville is beginning his examination. Which gives us time to call on”—Michael consulted the file with the husband’s in-formation—”Mr. Harold Radcliffe, solicitor.” He donned his coat and hat and gathered the slim file in one hand.
As they crossed through the common area, he glanced over at the division director’s office. John Ellis was a shrewd and exacting man in his mid-thirties. He was also the youngest Investigative Director of record and had proven himself worthy of the job, despite the naysayers who’d suggested his position was only because of the far-reaching influence of his titled and prominent father. Behind the glass in his door, Director Ellis was playing host to a pair of minor dignities from Paris.
Winston gave Michael a grin as they passed. “Third consecutive day the director has performed the duties of a diplomat. I see the commissioner has delegated his responsibilities beautifully.”
“They arrived for their appointment thirty minutes early.” Michael pushed the door open, and they stepped out into a drizzly rain. “We’re sure to hear the details later.”
“I certainly hope so. I’ve an aunt who writes romantic novels, and she is ever looking for fresh anecdotes regarding the prestigious and well-to-do.”
They hurried through the rain to a CID carriage, which was different than customary cabs only in the discreet lettering on the side of its otherwise bland appearance. Michael gave the driver the address, and he and Winston settled in for the short ride.
“Bloomsbury, is it?” Winston said. “Respectable, upper middle class—one might think such folk are immune to disasters such as this.”
“We both know disasters do not favor one over another. Our work might be a sight simpler if death restricted itself to one class.”
They rode in silence for a time until Winston spoke again. “I must ask, and hope I do not irritate you with it, but some of the lads at the Yard mentioned your undercover assignment last year. From what I could gather, you played the part of a tailor very well.” Winston’s lips twitched. “A noble enough profession, to be sure, but I’d have thought a cover as a pugilist, perhaps, might have been more readily convincing.”
Michael smiled. “Perhaps my secret personae shall be written in future policing manuals and held up as a shining example.” He sighed. “The long and short of it is my mother was a seamstress and my father was a constable. He died when I was young, and although my mother was accomplished, she was often behind on orders and needed help. I learned quickly.”
Excerpt from The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. Copyright © 2021 by Nancy Campbell Allen. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
“Allen pairs a matchmaker and a detective in this charming Victorian romance. Allen expertly combines mystery and romance into a fast-paced tale complete with plenty of surprises and a central relationship founded on mutual admiration and respect. Readers are sure to appreciate the strong, well-shaded heroine and twisty plot.” —Publishers Weekly
“Allen’s chaste tale of Victorian romantic suspense will also appeal to historical mystery readers, and it would be great for mother-and-daughter reads. This has great appeal for teens who like historical fiction laced with mystery and romance.” —Booklist
“I was immediately drawn into the characters’ lives and enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery and the development of the romance.” —Mystery and Suspense Magazine
Meet the Author
Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of fifteen published novels and numerous novellas, which span genres from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. In 2005, her work won the Utah Best of State award, and she received a Whitney Award for My Fair Gentleman. She has presented at numerous writing conferences and events since her first book was released in 1999. Nancy received a BS in Elementary Education from Weber State University. She loves to read, write, travel, and research and enjoys spending time laughing with family and friends. She is married and the mother of three children.
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Virtual Book Tour
Join the virtual book tour of The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart, Nancy Campbell Allen’s highly acclaimed historical novel, September 6-19, 2021. Thirty popular online influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.
Sept 06 Timeless Novels (Review)
Sept 07 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Sept 07 Wishful Endings (Review)
Sept 08 Robin Loves Reading (Review)
Sept 08 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Sept 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)
Sept 08 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
Sept 09 Bookfoolery (Review)
Sept 09 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)
Sept 10 The Bluestocking (Review)
Sept 10 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Sept 10 The Silver Petticoat Review (Review)
Sept 11 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Sept 11 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Sept 11 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Sept 12 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Sept 12 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Sept 13 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Sept 13 Reading with Emily (Review)
Sept 13 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Sept 14 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Sept 14 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Sept 14 Beauty in the Binding (Spotlight)
Sept 15 All-of-a-Kind Mom (Review)
Sept 15 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Sept 15 Life of Literature (Review)
Sept 16 From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
Sept 16 Probably at the Library (Spotlight)
Sept 17 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Sept 17 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Sept 18 Novel Kicks (Review)
Sept 19 Historical Fiction with Spirit (Excerpt)