Khanh the Killjoy

Cut to the Quick (Crime, Penguin)

Cut to the Quick - Kate Ross Do you know what it is to love someone unworthy? When you can't respect the person you love, you can't respect yourself.This is a good start to a Regency mystery series featuring Julian Kestrel. It is well-written, the plot is reasonable and moves in a believable pace and direction. Without modern detective tools, the people involved in solving the mystery use mainly deduction, reason, and observation to solve the case.The characters were mostly well-written, none were so outlandish as to be unbelievable, and though some characters are rather cliques of their time (for example, the extremely snobbish Lady Tarleton), they all proved to have a reason for their action and reaction by the end of the book.The main character, Julian Kestrel, is supposed to be a very well-known dandy. His company is supposedly quite sought after by the gentlemen of the Ton, but little is given about his background or his parentage besides the fact that he is unashamed of what others might think. For someone of that reputation, we don't see much of the dandy in him at all. When I think "Regency dandy," I picture Beau Brummel, and similar gentlemen with powdered faces, dressed like peacocks in all their strutting, colorful glory. Julian is dressed conservatively, hates to be thanked for his kind actions, and acts more like a well-respected gentleman about town than a rake.The supporting cast is enjoyable, and while there is a large group of people assembled, we get enough of a sense of personality with each character as to have a clear picture of each in our mind. My favorite characters and subplot are Hugh and Maud. Hugh is a very respectable young man, determined to do the right thing for his family's sake, and even for a future bride with whom he is not in love. Maud is a very shy character who incidentally has more character than she is able to show her forced fiancée. Their burgeoning relationship is sweet, easily foreseeable, and while not complex, entirely enjoyable. To see Maud's weak character opening up and showing so much insight into the situation is a delightful thing, but I've always had a special place in my heart for underdogs."If I marry Mr. Fontclair, he'll be saddled with a wife he never wanted, one he—he's probably ashamed of. But if I don't marry him, he'll be miserable, too. He pleaded with me to accept him; he said I had the honour of his family in my hands. So it seems that, whether I marry him or not, I can only make him unhappy. And that's hard, Mr. Kestrel—that's very hard!—when his happiness means more to me than anything in the world!"So much insight from a character I fully expected to fade into the background.The mystery plot itself and the eventual villain was well-written, if easy to guess. The pacing, the writing were all excellent, and the main character immensely likeable. I look forward to reading the next books in this series.