Jayden’s Innocence by Sue Perkins


Jayden’s Innocence by Sue Perkins
Publisher: Caishel Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Short story (77 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Life is hard when Jayden is released from prison.

No one wants to employ him and his family want nothing to do with an ex-con. He retreats to a quiet village with no amenities to hide from the world.

Jayden decides the only option is to clear his name. He did not embezzle the money from his employers but knows all prisoners swear they are innocent.

Will anyone believe him?

Sophie lives in the same village and is willing to help him prove his innocence plus she has the skills to do the investigation.

Their quest draws them closer but danger follows every move they make.

Will their search make things worse for Jayden or will they clear his name?

Newly released from jail, Jayden is trying to figure out how to go on with his life. Wrongly convicted for fraud he couldn’t revert back to his old job in finance. With his family refusing to acknowledge him and no one from the local village willing to take a chance and hire him, Jayden quickly starts to lose all hope. Knowing he needed to clear his name to start his life again, Jayden is determined to prove his innocence.

I enjoyed this sweet story – it had the feel of an old-style romance novel. I was a little intrigued by how stand-off-ish the local villagers were. Initially I was quite skeptical – since I know in a small town the comings and goings of other residents is usually frightfully important and talked about endlessly – but it was the reluctant attraction that Jayden felt towards a pretty neighbor, Sophie, that sold me on this story. At first Sophie’s character seemed quite simple to me – a pretty, nice and sweet local village girl. But just like the other residents of the village neither Sophie – nor any of them – are exactly what they seem at first.

With an interesting plot and a few subtle mysteries that unravel at a deliciously slow pace I found this to be a fun and character-driven sweet mystery/romance. Between the plot of who framed Jayden and sent him to jail for embezzling money that he never touched, to what exactly is going on in that strange little village I slowly found myself getting more and more thoroughly invested in both the small town and particularly the characters of Sophie, Jayden and Jayden’s elderly neighbor, Geoffrey. While the story isn’t precisely realistic (Sophie’s occupation and the other villagers’ secret were a little too coincidental/serendipitous for my liking), I did find both the plot and characters to be excellently written and I personally really enjoyed the slower pace of the story as a whole. The romance unfolds slowly and I thought it was very sweet – just a few kisses right near the end of the story – and honestly the mystery and characters were what captured my attention, the extremely light romance was just a bonus, not a main factor of the story to my mind.

Readers wanting a light and well-written mystery with strong characterisation and just a hint of romance should find this as satisfying as I did.

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