Taking a Chance by Deborah Burrows, is an historical romance, cum murder mystery set in Perth in 1943.
Eleanor “Nell” Fitzgerald, a fashion reporter for a local newspaper, is dragged into a murder mystery by Johnny Horvath, an American war correspondent convalescing in wartime Perth. Johnny is convinced that Lena, a former lover, is innocent of murder is determined to find the truth. Despite being engaged, Nell, can’t help but be attracted to the dashing journalist, as she joins forces with him to rescue lost girls, uncover a prostitution ring, and find the real murderer.
Nell is essentially a good girl, feisty, yet vulnerable and the central romance is quite tame in comparison to what else in happening in the book, with the novel depicting the seedier side of wartime, of girls running away from home, romances and illicit liaisons with soldiers.
The book has been extensively researched to get the feel of life in World War Two, but the research doesn’t get in the way of the narrative. It’s a pleasant read, and can be enjoyed for the setting (Perth doesn’t seem to be the setting of popular books, more’s the pity), the mystery and for the bubbling romantic tensions between Nell and Johnny.