The Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker is the second in the Victorian Bookshop Mystery series, and the sequel to A Vanishing Thief. Georgia Fenchurch is an antiquarian bookseller in London, and is also a member of the Archivist Society, a group that investigates matters brought to them by concerned parties. In the course of the first book Georgia made more than a passing acquaintance with the Duke of Blackford, who had an interest of his own in the case she was pursuing. This time, Blackford reappears and requests Georgia's assistance with another case- this time involving Britain's national security.
This case has a personal stake for Georgia as well. A woman has been murdered- and the woman is a relative of Phyllida Monthalf, who is a friend of Georgia's and was herself rescued by the Archivist Society years ago. Georgia promises they will get to the bottom of the murder, but it is a race against time as the murdered woman's husband is a ship designer- and some crucial plans have gone missing. The husband is the prime suspect, but Blackford suspects foreign spies are at work, trying to get a copy of the highly sensitive plans. Blackford decides that Georgia must impersonate a high society lady to gain access to the gossip and secrets that are swirling around the case... and not only that, she must pretend to be his paramour as well. Georgia would like nothing more than to spend time with the duke- but when it becomes clear that someone knows her true identity and will stop at nothing to obtain the plans, Georgia must decide how far she will go to find the killer... but will her own heart be broken in the process?
This book is just a lot of fun. Georgia is a great heroine, and there are twists and turns galore as the plot plays out. Blackford of course seems a little too perfect, but he also doesn't ave the day every time- Georgia is resourceful and can take care of herself, thank you very much. They have a great relationship, full of sexual tension (but this is Victorian times so everything is kept very appropriate). My absolute favorite part of this book was the repartee between Georgia and the various nobles and titled women she comes in contact with. The dialogue and banter are the strength of this series. I think I enjoyed this one every bit as much as I did the first one, and will be looking forward to the next book.