A jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England.
James Sommers returned from the war with his nerves in tatters. All he wants is to retreat to the quiet village of his childhood and enjoy the boring, predictable life of a country doctor. The last thing in the world he needs is a handsome stranger who seems to be mixed up with the first violent death the village has seen in years. It certainly doesn’t help that this stranger is the first person James has wanted to touch since before the war.
The war may be over for the rest of the world, but Leo Page is still busy doing the dirty work for one of the more disreputable branches of the intelligence service. When his boss orders him to cover up a murder, Leo isn’t expecting to be sent to a sleepy village. After a week of helping old ladies wind balls of yarn and flirting with a handsome doctor, Leo is in danger of forgetting what he really is and why he’s there. He’s in danger of feeling things he has no business feeling. A person who burns his identity after every job can’t set down roots.
As he starts to untangle the mess of secrets and lies that lurk behind the lace curtains of even the most peaceful-seeming of villages, Leo realizes that the truths he’s about to uncover will affect his future and those of the man he’s growing to care about.
The doctor was beet red now, all the way from his cheekbones to the collar of his shirt. “There is no evidence,” he hissed. “There’s no entertaining, either. Good God, man. You are horribly indiscreet for a… whatever you are.”
“I know,” Leo said cheerfully. “It’s part of my charm.”
Hither, Page was a delightful short book and I didn’t want it to end. I loved the characters and I loved the little town they were in. And it never felt like I was trapped in a mystery novel. Things just played out and I was like “Okay, but what about Page? What about James? What about them, huh?”
Well, I got some mighty good Page & Sommers.
The beauty of this book lies entirely on the characters. They’re awesome. Before I get to the main characters, I wanna point out the side characters who brought life to the book. At more than one moment I paused at something they said or did and just had a small ball. They’re great! Then, you have the main characters, Leo Page and James Sommers. James was a surgeon in WWII, and he has returned how to his small town to live a quiet life. He had a hard war, and wrapping himself in small town doctoring in a place people knows him is just what he needs. Just not the small town gossip. Anything but that.
Until one of the women in the village is murdered. And Leo Page enters the scene. Leo Page is…Leo Page. Page works for a small, secret part of the British government in a unspecified but sort of spy-like fashion. He changes himself to fit the situation. And he has been sent to this small village to investigate a murder to see if it has ties to something bigger.
Only he spends more time trying to snag the village doctor instead of investigating the murder. And who can blame him? James is pretty great. I loved the relationship they build over such a short period of time. Granted, I wanted more. But that’s because I’m a greedy little romance demon who devours everything in my path more than because Cat Sebastian wrote a book lacking in the romance department at all. It is full of subtle, and not so subtle, hints and comfort when one needs it. And they just fit together so well!
I thought I would have issues with the time period, because I don’t particularly enjoy historical pieces, and the WWII period is especially not my favourite to read about. However, I found that the time period didn’t really matter at all except for James being scandalized at how indelicate Leo Page was being about Leo wanting him – in a time when being gay was not a thing one was open about.
Hither, Page instead focused on the small village aspects. The small town gossip. The murder and the woman who was murdered. Sure, there was rationing going on, but it was a small town much like any small town at any time. And it was fun. Everything just seemed to fit together so well. The people, the place, the time. Everything.
The mystery aspects of the book weren’t what I went in for, and it certainly isn’t a genre I typically read, but they certainly didn’t disappoint. I found myself a bit surprised at times how invested I was in the outcome. Whodunit, indeed. And why!
I’m so glad I read this book, and I very much look forward to a book two. I would do a lot to see Leo and James together some more. Even if this isn’t my typical genre, or time period, or even place. They’re just so perfect together, it transcends any reservations I had about anything else. Great book, even if it was a bit short. Because I want all of this I can get.