London, 1812. When the unconventional Gemma Lancaster embarked on a mission to infiltrate high society and avenge her beloved cousin’s murder she never would have guessed she’d end up in the arms of a thief. At least, that’s what she assumes when she discovers Lucas Stone breaking into a private safe.
Lucas Stone, the Earl of Winchester, has a reputation for arrogance and a soft-spot for his sister, which is how he ends up in the predicament of hiding behind a curtain at midnight with the dreadfully dull Miss Gemma Lancaster. But he soon discovers appearances can be deceiving when the country mouse turns into a spitfire in front of his eyes and she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him.
Though one is chasing a blackmailer and the other a murderer, they quickly realize they are on the hunt for the same villain. Now they must work together, which would be fine, if they could decide if they’d rather fall in love or kill one another.
One Step Behind is not just a Historical Romance, it's an HR with a strong mystery theme. After the death of her cousin, Gemma Lancaster is set on finding his killer. His murder is said to have been the cause of a robbery gone wrong, but that doesn't sit well with Gemma, so she goes to London and with the help of her aunt begins a dangerous investigation. What she doesn't plan on is catching the interest of Lucas Stone, the Earl of Winchester who is conducting his own investigation. With the realisation that their investigations have a link, they begin working together and a partnership begins. To protect Gemma's reputation, they pretend to be engaged. On one hand Gemma does not want Lucas to feel honour bound to fulfill the engagement and on the other hand Lucas begins to realise that his idea may have surfaced because of more than just protecting Gemma's reputation.
I actually really enjoyed this book and would have probably enjoyed it a lot more had it been longer, because as it is I feel everything happened much too quickly. While Gemma and Lucas' relationship was convincing I would have enjoyed more detail, and there's the matter of the culprit of all the wrong doings in the book. I'm not quite sure if I was supposed to have known who it was from the very beginning. Let's say it was supposed to be obvious to the reader, the result made the characters seem a bit dense. Mild suspicion would have done a world of good, but in this case the characters had no idea.
I really enjoyed the romance, I loved how protectective Lucas was, I also enjoyed how strong and sassy Gemma was. The secondary romance between Beatrice and George was a welcome surprise, I loved how the author went outside the norm and did not focus on titled characters but did not leave out the fact that a title meant so much at the time. I thought this was a great debut from the author and I plan on reading the next book in the series even though at this point it seems as if this was a standalone.
"You do not only see what you are looking for. You see who people are. You saw through my ruse, after all.
"It was obvious to the casual observer that you were not what you appeared to be.
His grin was arrogant and peeved her a bit, even though she believed his were meant to flatter her.