Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Secret Scientists of London #1
Publication Date: 2/9/21
Number of Pages: 336
Elizabeth Everett’s debut novel is a delightfully witty, humorous, romantic, and exciting story filled with lovable characters who will quickly capture your heart. The story is excellently crafted and well-plotted without being predictable.
After her husband died, Lady Violet Hughes was a shadow of the vibrant, fun-loving, brilliant young lady she had been before her marriage. After years of abuse to her self-esteem, she had shrunk into herself. Her dream now that she’s a widow has been to create a retreat, Athena’s Retreat, where other women like herself can be themselves – without the censure of unsupportive spouses and family. These are all brilliant ladies who engage in studies in every scientific field imaginable – botany, chemistry, paleontology, biology – just to name a few. Lady Violet has sunk a considerable chunk of her fortune into creating that retreat and now she needs to gain at least a moderate acceptance from the ton in order to make it acceptable for ladies to become members. Of course, the public face of Athena’s Retreat will be benign and will not show the projects and experiments that are carried on in the non-public areas.
Arthur Kneland is an ultra-elite bodyguard who has just retired from a special branch of the Queen’s service. He has guarded and protected everybody from foreign despots to villains to – well, you name it – all in the name of the Crown. He’s been stabbed, shot, and almost anything else and he is still mostly in one piece and retiring. He’s only had one failure in his service to the Crown and that was his very first case as a very green 18-year-old. That case still haunts him and caused him to exile himself from England for twenty years. Now, he’s back and looking to find a farm to call home – right after he takes this one private case for a good friend – Lord Greycliff. Grey wants him to provide protection for his stepmother, Lady Violet Hughes, while she is working on a very important project for the Crown.
Arthur certainly has his work cut out for him when he finds himself surrounded by quirky, brilliant, secretive ladies who don’t quite trust him – or anyone else for that matter. Their explosive experiments cause him much alarm – especially when there are explosions happening that are far from benign. Lady Violet will not believe that one of her ladies could be involved in a plot against her and therefore is always putting herself in danger. Arthur himself is in danger as well – at least his heart is. Despite his considerable strength of will, he finds himself more and more drawn to Lady Violet – and she appears to be drawn to him as well.
Can a Scottish farmer’s son and an English lady find their HEA? Is the villain of the piece one of Lady Violet’s ladies? Or, is the villain Adam Winters, the violent leader of the violent rebel group Omnium Democratia? Or, is the villain Violet’s suitor, Earl Grantham? Or – someone else entirely? You’ll just have to read this delightful book to find out.
This was a great, fun-to-read mystery, but the ending left just a little to be desired. I’m sure this is a personal preference, but it is important to me as a reader. I want the romance to be totally complete in the book. I really dislike it when the book ends with the proposal and acceptance. I always want a wedding and some follow-up from that. An epilogue is absolutely one of my favorites. In this one, I would have LOVED to see their wedding and a scene from several months down-the-road when he receives his ‘honors’. I’d like to know what those honors were. Was he granted a title – maybe a Baron or something? Did he just get medals or was it more substantial? For me, it just felt a bit unfinished because I had too many questions. Therefore, I’ve given it a 4-star rating.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.