I enjoyed the story, but I can tell you – if this had been the first book I read by this author, I probably wouldn’t have sought others. It isn’t that it wasn’t a nice mystery, it is that the heroine is TSTL. She makes some of the most convoluted, impulsive decisions, and those put others at risk as well. I love strong, resilient, independent heroines – but they also need to make intelligent, thoughtful, deliberative decisions rather than acting on impulse. I’ve now read all of the books written by this author and her heroines seem to be, for the most part, TSTL. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the mystery part of the book. I do emphasize mystery because there is little romance and no steam. For me, that isn’t a problem, but if you like a bit of steam, you need to look for books from a different publisher.
Whew! There is so much going on in this book that it will make your head spin. There is a house full of distantly related people and none of them are what they seem. Sybil Delafield arrives amidst this pack of wolves and is immediately prey to one or all of them. Can she escape unscathed? The danger goes from being held up by highwaymen to being pursued by the Prince Regent’s Dragoons. There are just too many secrets and too many people with different agendas.
Sybil Delafield had a happy life, but she’d always wondered about her parents. Since no one would reveal her parentage, she assumed she was born on the wrong side of the blanket, but still wanted to know as much as she could learn. Receiving a letter and a gift from the Earl of Stanton made her believe there was a connection to Croft Towers, so when the matriarch of Croft Towers needed a companion, Sybil immediately applied.
She arrives at Croft Towers soaked to the bone and freezing. She got indifferent welcomes from the various residents of the house and wasn’t sure what to make of them. To her, it didn’t matter because she was there to act as a companion to Mrs. Chalcroft. However, almost immediately Mrs. Chalcroft asks her to make clandestine deliveries for her. Those deliveries were at dangerous times and places, but Sybil complied with the request. I did enjoy watching her struggle with how she felt about Mr. Sinclair and Mr. Cantrell. In one story you have multiple plots/sub-plots – there is a blackmailer, a smuggler, a murderer, and a spy and it is up to you to keep it all straight as you weave through the story. We could have done without several of those plots and villains and still had a lovely story.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Laura Kirman. I’ve listened to her narrations before and the only issue I had were with the male voices. However, in this book I found the delivery to be just a bit choppy. It wasn’t anything that really jarred me out of the story, but it was noticeable. As in her previous narrations, her interpretation of a male voice is to be guttural and, in some cases, very slow – as in a US Southern drawl.
All in all, I enjoyed the story and I’m glad I got to meet Mr. Sinclair and Sybil. That said, it wouldn’t be a book I would re-read.