We met Lady Jane Chapel in the previous book in this series – and goodness – I think she had a personality transplant. What a difference two years can make. In that book, she was so meek, mild, and backward that her younger sister had to step in and save her from a very unwanted marriage. She mostly didn’t want the marriage because she was in love with someone else and they were secretly betrothed. That, of course, ended when her younger sister’s marriage caused a huge scandal. Somehow, after all of that chaos, she has grown a spine of steel, a will of iron, a longing for illicit events, and the temerity to state all of those things. The only part of her I recognized from the last book is how exceptionally beautiful she is.
Thomas Sharpe loves his family and will do whatever it takes to save them. Yes, they need saving. Thomas’s father lost all of his fortune because of a bad investment. I’m not sure why he’d invest money he couldn’t afford to lose – and certainly not enough to bankrupt them, but he did. The only way Thomas can save them is to marry an heiress who has enough money to support them all. He’s been looking for two years and hasn’t been successful because he is so very charming, witty, and handsome that none of the heiresses believe he’ll take a marriage commitment seriously. (I know, we all buy that one.)
Thomas is best friends with Jane’s illegitimate half-brother, Percy, but has spent very little time with Lady Jane who now lives with Percy. However, the two of them make a bargain – Jane will help Thomas find his bride IF Thomas will show her some of the more illicit things in society – those things she’d never normally be allowed to see. Of course, we all know where that is headed – toward a HEA – right!
The story blurb sounds good, doesn’t it? So, why didn’t I rate it 5-stars? While I generally enjoyed the story, there was a couple of things that just wore on me – but I will still read the next one.
• It was plainly and firmly established early on that Thomas had to save his family by marrying for money. Yet, we had to read it and re-read it and re-read it ad nauseum. Enough already.
• The writing often felt a bit choppy and repetitive.
• We heard over and over that Thomas was the most handsome and most charming man in London, yet I saw little of that exceptional charm demonstrated anywhere. He was charming and witty, but no more than anyone else.
• Many of the conversations and actions just had a very modern feel to me.
• It annoyed me that Thomas’s first thought to save his family was to marry for money instead of exploring all of the options that might have been available to him. His best friend is a whiz with numbers and accounting and works for the queen – so why wouldn’t Thomas seek advice from him? Why would Thomas not consider what sorts of other things he could do – especially since he was so very handsome and charming. Surely someone in his vast array of friends could offer some assistance. Thomas isn’t titled and it is the Victorian age – so – surely there was something else to at least consider.
This author is always hit-or-miss for me, so I always have to read the next book to see where it will fall. This book seems to fall into the ‘meh’ category, but the last one was a firm 5-star read. There is a fair amount of wit and steam in the book, so that isn’t ever a bad thing. Overall, I am happy to have met Thomas and Jane but wouldn’t read this book a second time.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.