Kate Hamilton and DI Tom Mallory have finally set a date for their wedding—Christmas Eve. As Kate wraps things up at the Cabinet of Curiosities, Kate’s friend Sheila Parker brings in a coin collection for appraisal. Sadly, none are valuable. But Sheila claims to possess a rare gold sovereign presented to her great-great-grandmother, a laundress at Windsor Castle, along with a personal letter from Queen Victoria herself. That could literally change history—if Sheila can locate the coin and letter amongst her late mother’s boxed-up possessions. When Sheila vanishes, leaving behind a single bloody fingerprint, Kate fears her friend’s life is in jeopardy—along with her own wedding plans. As Shakespeare said, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”
- In the days leading up to Kate’s and Tom’s long-awaited wedding, everything seems to go wrong. People say there’s no such thing as a perfect wedding. Something always goes wrong. Is that right, and do you have a wedding disaster story you can share?
- Kate’s friend and landlady, Vivian Bunn, voluntarily takes over the role of “wedding planner,” but she goes a little overboard. What do you think is Vivian’s motivation for wanting everything to go so perfectly? Did you blame her or sympathize? Why do you think Kate doesn’t tell her to back off?
- One of the subplots in this book is the all-too-common internet scam know as “romance fraud.” Turns out, the handsome and wealthy Carl Curtis with the villa in Portugal doesn’t actually exist. How could a person like Sheila Parker give up everything for a man she’s never actually seen? Have you known anyone who fell for romance fraud?
- After Kate’s mother’s arrival, Kate shares her misgivings about marrying a policeman—how can she live with the daily fear that one day he might not return home. Kate’s mother gives her some advice. Why was the advice wise? What role does Kate’s mother play in her life?
- In Queen Victoria’s letter to her laundress at Windsor Castle (Sheila’s great-great-grandmother), she expresses thoughts about marriage and childbirth that reflect comments she actually wrote in the diary she kept for 67 years and in letters to her married daughters.
- From the letter, how would you characterize Victoria’s thoughts about marriage and childbirth?
- Given the fact that Victoria was very much in love with her husband, Albert, and they had nine children together, how do you think her words reflect the age in which she lived?
- Tom’s mother, Liz Mallory, has never liked Kate and has tried unsuccessfully to prevent this marriage.
- Why do you think Liz feels the way she does (from previous books)?
- Now that her schemes have apparently failed, how does she behave? Do you think she’ll try to make the best of things in the future?
- When Tom doesn’t show up for the wedding rehearsal, Kate panics and takes off to find him without telling anyone what she’s planning. Why does Kate, who is normally so logical, act this way? Why wouldn’t she wait for help?
- When Kate finally finds Tom in the Essex farmhouse with Sheila Parker and Sam Croft, she understands that Sheila is protective of her captor. Why would Sheila want to protect a young man who’d scammed her, stolen her money, and kidnapped her at gunpoint? What is your opinion of Sheila? Did you like her? Why or why not?
- How does Tom handle Sam, and what did you think of Tom’s plan to take down the hired killer?
- Do you think Tom will take the job with Nash & Holmes, Private Investigators? Should he? Why or why not?