Where the Heart Leads: From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair
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Penelope Ashford, Portia Cynster's younger sister, has grown up with every advantage - wealth, position, and beauty. Yet Penelope is anything but a typical ton miss - forceful, willful and blunt to a fault, she has for years devoted her considerable energy and intelligence to directing an institution caring for the forgotten orphans of London's streets. But now her charges are mysteriously disappearing. Desperate, Penelope turns to the one man she knows who might help her - Barnaby Adair. Handsome scion of a noble house, Adair has made a name for himself in political and judicial circles. His powers of deduction and observation combined with his pedigree have helped him solve several serious crimes within the ton. Although he makes her irritatingly uncomfortable, Penelope throws caution to the wind and appears on his bachelor doorstep late one night, determined to recruit him to her cause. But as they unravel the mystery of the missing boys, they uncover the trail of a criminal embedded in the very organisation recently created to protect all Londoners. And that criminal knows of them and their efforts, and is only too ready to threaten all they hold dear, including their new-found knowledge of the intrigues of the human heart.

Customer Reviews:

  • Fans will approve
    Here's the thing about Stephanie Laurens....like most other long-time romance writers, she recycles plots (or at least plot points), but so what? In her case, she has created such wonderful characters amongst all her books in print (especially, for me, the Cynsters and their cohorts), that I don't much care about the repetition. I like her people, like spending time with them, and let's get honest here...Ms. Laurens does one important thing really well (actually she does several, but we'll focus on the obvious for a moment). She writes great sex scenes, and isn't that what we're looking for, ladies? Can we not be more honest than the men who claim to buy Playboy magazine for the articles?

    She leaves little to the imagination, however she never makes me cringe. And compared to what's come from the pens (make that computers) of some of my other favorite authors lately (Garwood, McGregor, Kleypas, et al), this book is a bloody masterpiece.

    I loved the character of Penelope in earlier books and always wondered how she would turn out as an adult. And Barnaby has also made some memorable appearances in earlier books. So seeing the two of them brought together, in a plausible and interesting way, while enlarging and enhancing them as characters (both individually and as a couple) has made for a darn good read. Plus the plot was different, interesting and believable vis a vis the characters. Not another "met one night at a masked ball, never forgot", or "forced into marriage of convenience, then fall in love", or whatever seems to be the favorite this past year.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this, more so I believe for having read the earlier books. It can stand on its own, but why let it when reading the earlier Cynster stuff is well worth the trip? Thanks Stephanie....more info
  • Bar Cynster Novels
    Well, I for one couldn't put it down till I'd read it through to the end. Story line & characters are well developed & very interesting. Dialog is funny and fast and romance scenes are great! Both romances are well drawn & the people very believable & likeable. I've never gone wrong with any of her books -- they are delightful!!! Thanks Stephanie!!!...more info
  • Predictable, and a bit contrived, but not bad
    Part romance, part mystery, this follows the story of Penelope, strong-willed sister of Lucien who appeared in a previous Cynster novel, and Barnaby Adair, the sleuthing third son of an earl, who apparently appeared in another. Penelope is the administrator of an orphanage, and seeks Barnaby's help when a number of youngsters are abducted. Although Barnaby and Penelope are both confirmed singletons, as they unravel the mystery they are drawn together and although Penelope fights her attraction to Barnaby, but there is never any doubt of the outcome.

    For me the story was a bit contrived, particularly the ending, and Laurens has already done this plotline to death. She writes quite well, and is reasonably adept at conjuring up the atmosphere of the post Regency era. However, the one attempt at humour in the book did make me laugh, but for the wrong reasons, since it concerns on the heroine's inability to open mussels. Had she succeeded, the book would have been considerably shorter, since she would have died of food poisoning - healthy mussels open when cooked!

    It isn't a bad book, just rather predictable. And since none of the Cynsters make an appearance, fans of the series may be disappointed. I understand it's the first of a new series by Laurens - I doubt I'll be reading any of them.

    ...more info
  • Review of the eReader version
    I've read all of Stephanie Lauren's novels, and I'm getting... a bit disappointed. Perhaps I've just come to expect more from her. This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't her best or even close. I have liked Barnaby's character throughout the other novels he's appeared in, and was really looking forward to his story.

    Things I liked: As others have mentioned, the mystery was a bit better than most of the others. The writing, as always is well done (although the "patience of Jove" still annoys me lol). I liked that although Barnaby felt protective, he wasn't constantly demanding that she obey him, or trying to force her to do things as he wished. He appeared to respect her opinion and listen to her comments (at least as the book got farther in).

    Things I disliked: How many times do we have to hear about her "wits" and "senses"? Her "arguments" weren't really all that convincing. The near constant references to "men" being of inferior intellect. That, as another reviewer mentioned, her whole reason for pursuing a "relationship" with him was out of curiosity. That is a common theme in many of Ms. Laurens' novels, but in this case there seemed to be little else at that point.

    As I said, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. I happily bought the book (electronic version), and am looking forward to more of her works (especially the Bastian Club series), but I'm pretty glad I didn't spend $25 on it.

    I appreciate very much that Ms. Laurens is one of the best, most eloquent writers in the genre, and also that she has some of the steamiest sex scenes of any author. I just wasn't thrilled with this story, and would like to see more emphasis placed on "romance". I would happily read a longer novel if the quality of the mystery was equaled by the quality of the love story....more info
  • Review of the eReader version
    I've read all of Stephanie Lauren's novels, and I'm getting... a bit disappointed. Perhaps I've just come to expect more from her. This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't her best or even close. I have liked Barnaby's character throughout the other novels he's appeared in, and was really looking forward to his story.

    Things I liked: As others have mentioned, the mystery was a bit better than most of the others. The writing, as always is well done (although the "patience of Jove" still annoys me lol). I liked that although Barnaby felt protective, he wasn't constantly demanding that she obey him, or trying to force her to do things as he wished. He appeared to respect her opinion and listen to her comments (at least as the book got farther in).

    Things I disliked: How many times do we have to hear about her "wits" and "senses"? Her "arguments" weren't really all that convincing. The near constant references to "men" being of inferior intellect. That, as another reviewer mentioned, her whole reason for pursuing a "relationship" with him was out of curiosity. That is a common theme in many of Ms. Laurens' novels, but in this case there seemed to be little else at that point.

    As I said, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. I happily bought the book (electronic version), and am looking forward to more of her works (especially the Bastian Club series), but I'm pretty glad I didn't spend $25 on it.

    I appreciate very much that Ms. Laurens is one of the best, most eloquent writers in the genre, and also that she has some of the steamiest sex scenes of any author. I just wasn't thrilled with this story, and would like to see more emphasis placed on "romance". I would happily read a longer novel if the quality of the mystery was equaled by the quality of the love story....more info
  • Where the Heart Leads
    Barnaby Adair is bored, but he is determined to stay out of his mother's reach and out of her matchmaking attempts. The lack of an active case is hardly in his favor. However, when Penelope Ashford walks in his door, late at night no less, Barnaby sees an opportunity in the making - he can explore the interesting specimen of a woman and stay out of his mother's clutches. But Penelope's case turns out to be much more complex than anyone ever imagined, but through it all Barnaby will need to keep Penelope safe and convince her that marriage to him is, not only in her best interest, but an advantage not to be dismissed.

    Penelope Ashford is set and determined to find the boys that have been stolen. The missing boys had been meant for the Foundling House, which Penelope runs. After careful consideration, Penelope has decided that the best person to assist her in her quest is really Barnaby - who has proven to be a reliable man. , A man she feels she can manage to suit her needs.

    But as these two set out together to rescue the missing boys will they find that they are made for each other as well?

    In this latest installment of the Cynster series, Where the Heart Leads: From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair is a good addition to the sensual and irreverent romance series. As has come to be traditional in this series we find that heroines are assertive and full of commonsense, most of the time, while the heroes are truly Alpha males that have learned to maneuver around "headstrong" female relations and potential spouses. In this case, Penelope breaks the mold by being unusually determined, yet clearheaded in her judgment, which makes her a great investigative and intellectual partner for Barnaby. Barnaby, on the other hand, follows the traditional Alpha male mold, yet he tempers all his actions with plenty of strategic thinking aimed at getting him to the end that he desires. As a whole Where the Heart Leads is a fun, entertaining and an absolutely sensual read that will leave you well satisfied with the end and admiring both Barnaby and Penelope for the wonderful characters that they are - Stephanie Lauren's has once again written a sensual story not to be missed in Where the Heart Leads: From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair!

    Sabella
    Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed ...more info
  • Plodding along
    I don't get why others thought this book was so good. I thought it was boring and slow paced and didn't find the herione at all interesting. The hero was ok but the story just plodded along with truly not much happening....more info
  • "Upstairs/Downstairs" through Regency London
    This was a really enjoyable story with two major threads, a major and a minor romance and a murder/kidnapping mystery with an unusual mix of characters from different social levels in society. More time in the book is actually given to the murder/kidnapping story where various young orphan boys are kidnapped before being taken to a Foundling Home in order to be trained as Burglar's Boys. Penelope Ashford, the administrator of the Foundling Home and the daughter of a Viscount, takes upon herself to investigate the disappearance of the boys. She knows she doesn't have the skills herself, although she has plenty of courage and energy, but she knows that Barnaby Adair, third son of an Earl, is known for investigating crimes and having links with the Police. She goes to Barnaby and persuades him to help her to find the boys, and thus starts this enjoyable plot.

    Barnaby assumes that he can 'handle' Penelope but she soon confounds his ideas and expectations and he ends up working alongside her, sometimes following in her wake. Their attraction to each other becomes apparent but Penelope is dead set against marriage and so Barnaby has to use all his guile and his understanding of her nature to try to change her mind. There's a secondary romance between a policeman and his informant which is also sweet and well-written and an interesting insight into life for the middle classes and working classes in Regency London.

    All the characters in this story are well drawn, ranging from the main characters to the dying mother of a young boy, and Laurens' pacing is always excellent. The point of view sometimes changes unexpectedly mid-text which can be a bit confusing and the historical detail is a bit suspect in that our heroine seems to be able to gad about all over the place without anyone noticing she's unchaperoned. However the story wouldn't work well if she was constantly under the surveillance of her parents so it's an acceptable fudge of historicity to further the plot. All in all this was a really enjoyable read with the kidnapping plot adding spice to the story.

    Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book ? Helen Hancox 2008...more info
  • Wonderful, Brilliant Like all her books
    I have all the Cynster series and loved this book. I wish though she would give us more insite to the family life of the six cousins and how they are enjoying their married life.

    This book is excellent a real page turner. Penelope one of Luc's younger sisters and the one who is the most bookish runs a foundling home. She enlists Barnaby in helping her find what has happened the the youngsters which are supposed to be coming to the home once their parent has passed away. These children have seemed to have disappeared into thin air and may have been taken for unscrupulous reasons.

    During this search Penelope and Barnaby fall in love and eventually marry. A lovely story one I could not put down.
    ...more info
  • Laurens Hits a Homerun with New Series!
    Set in 19th century London, Lauren's latest Cynster book follows the adventures of Barnaby Adair. Third son of an earl, Barnaby works as a private investigator examining crimes that are often perpetuated against and generally set in motion by members of the affluent ton and not a recreation gentlemen of society would pursue.

    Lady Penelope Ashford was thought of as a bit of an eccentric and non-conformist. Penelope's passion and dedication were for running the Foundling House for orphans. When the last four young boys who were to be admitted disappeared before they could be brought to the home, Penelope very boldly cornered Barnaby in his home and enlisted his help to find them.

    Fascinated by the intelligent, pushy, and determined woman, Barnaby takes on the case and a new partner, as Penelope is not about to be left behind he investigates. Deducing that the boys are probably being trained for illegal activities, their search brings them into the underworld and slums of the East End of London. Soon the two begin to admire each other's strength, dedication and resolve in trying to make a difference to those less fortunate outside of their privileged world. As their attraction grows, Barnaby lets Penelope take the lead in seduction, while he leads her in the direction to make her his partner in truth!

    *** This delightful story is another installment to the Cynster family chronicles yet Laurens seems to be spinning this off into a brand new series under the Casebook of Barnaby Adair, and I am happy to say, if the follow-up to this retains the freshness and spark seen here, Laurens will have another hit on her hands. Penelope is another of Laurens' wondrous female creations - born to wealth, strong and determined to made a difference to those less fortunate - in short an admirable heroine. The fact that Penelope was also feisty, outspoken, curious, and outrageous at times (i.e. the coshing attack) proves to be a delightful bonus.

    Laurens has always come up with masterful heroes and Barnaby was indeed created as another fascinating male. As the third son of an earl, Barnaby has made his own way and found his own niche by doing something responsible rather than other gentlemanly pursuits. His friendship with his old friend Inspector Basil Stokes of Scotland Yard heralds a plethora of possibilities to anticipate as Barnaby's `case book' evolves.

    As always there is never a lack of a substantial amount of fascinating secondary characters and the fast-pace of the adventure and chase to save the missing orphan boys before it was too late gives the readers some nail biting moments.

    Consummate storyteller Laurens is back in fine form with this new twist in the Cynster family chronicles encapsulating all the sensualness and hot smoking love scenes one comes to expect from her skillful pen. Being able to cross over between the glorious ballrooms of the ton, and the seamier underside of London, Barnaby and associates new cases promise all the thrills one has come to expect from this mistress of romance. I can't wait to see what comes up next!
    ...more info
  • A PLEASING POTPOURRI OF ROMANCE AND MYSTERY
    Do you enjoy Regency romances, vicariously visiting another time and place ? Do you like a narrative laced with descriptions of a heroine whose senses alternately swoon or quake and nerves clench at the slightest touch of a tall, handsome ? If so, you'll find much to relish in the latest by Australian novelist Stephanie Laurens.

    This author has also crafted a mystery to accompany the increasing palpitations of Penelope Ashford and Barnaby Adair's roguish come-hither behavior. While the mystery is an intriguing one involving some of the most dastardly villains since Fagin in Oliver Twist, it certainly takes second place to the love stories Ms. Laurens has woven.

    It is late one evening when we first meet Barnaby, who is known for uncovering the shenanigans of his fellow aristocrats. While his latest feat has been praised by many, including the Prime Minister, he's not reveling in his victory, but feels rather at a loss. We take it a bit bored - that is until the doorbell rings at this unlikely hour and Penelope is ushered into his parlor.

    Penelope is a rather unusual heroine - beautiful, of course, but wearing gold rimmed glasses. Barnaby remembers what he'd heard of her - that "she was something of a firebrand, one who paid scant attention to social restraints if said restraints stood in her way." Precisely so as she's cast propriety aside to come to his home unescorted at an untimely hour. She is seeking his help. Penelope is the director of a foundling home, an institution that takes in orphans primarily from the East End. Once there the youngsters are well cared for and trained to be maids, footmen, etc.

    The problem is that in the past month alone four of the boys who should have gone to the home have been taken by someone unknown before Penelope or others could pick them up. Naturally, she fears for their safety and wants the kidnappers stopped before more boys are taken.

    Barnaby agrees to help her and enlists the assistance of his good friend, Inspector Basil Stokes. When it becomes obvious that they must somehow penetrate the East End in an effort to learn more, Stokes calls upon Griselda Martin, a former East Ender who now runs a millinery shop. No surprise - romance blossoms between this pair also.

    Thus, Laurens presents two very different couples united by one baffling pursuit, while at the same time each explores the intricacies of his or her emotions. Just what this author's fans will stand in line for.

    - Gail Cooke
    ...more info
  • A New Twist for Laurens
    I'll admit it -- I've read every one of Stephanie Laurens' books. As other reviewers have pointed out, she seemed to run out of steam in the Cynster series a couple books back. But in "Where the Heart Leads" I think she's back in mid-season form with two very likeable, personable, intelligent and compassionate leads. As a bonus, you get to see, in much lesser detail, the courtship of another couple play out over the course of the story.

    I found Barnaby and Penelope's story -- as well as Basil and Griselda's (OMG -- what a name!) -- extremely engaging and devoid of the normal artificial "obstructions" that many Regency novelists fall back on. The backdrop of 19th century police investigations was extremely interesting, and the patented Laurens love scenes were very well done.

    Here's my only critique -- after 20 or so books, I'm amazed that Stephanie Laurens can't manage to disguise her villians better. Seriously, she stops just short of having a huge neon sign with "Bad Guy" and an arrow to point him out! It's just sad. In this book, she spends so much time building up the suspense by giving the villian a pseudonym, but makes his identity obvious when he is introduced into a scene with the two heroes as an incidental character...and he is the only incidental character in the entire 400 page book who is described in negative terms. Face it, Agatha Christie she's not.

    But she is a very talented writer, with a gift for beautiful, descriptive writing. These characters, and this book, are worth spending a few hours with on a cold fall day....more info
  • A New Twist for Laurens
    I'll admit it -- I've read every one of Stephanie Laurens' books. As other reviewers have pointed out, she seemed to run out of steam in the Cynster series a couple books back. But in "Where the Heart Leads" I think she's back in mid-season form with two very likeable, personable, intelligent and compassionate leads. As a bonus, you get to see, in much lesser detail, the courtship of another couple play out over the course of the story.

    I found Barnaby and Penelope's story -- as well as Basil and Griselda's (OMG -- what a name!) -- extremely engaging and devoid of the normal artificial "obstructions" that many Regency novelists fall back on. The backdrop of 19th century police investigations was extremely interesting, and the patented Laurens love scenes were very well done.

    Here's my only critique -- after 20 or so books, I'm amazed that Stephanie Laurens can't manage to disguise her villians better. Seriously, she stops just short of having a huge neon sign with "Bad Guy" and an arrow to point him out! It's just sad. In this book, she spends so much time building up the suspense by giving the villian a pseudonym, but makes his identity obvious when he is introduced into a scene with the two heroes as an incidental character...and he is the only incidental character in the entire 400 page book who is described in negative terms. Face it, Agatha Christie she's not.

    But she is a very talented writer, with a gift for beautiful, descriptive writing. These characters, and this book, are worth spending a few hours with on a cold fall day....more info