This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on July 1, 2014
The ill-fated Hope diamond, a bored wealthy aristocrat, and an unconventional duke’s daughter rattle around London in this Regency romp. I loved the idea of a story featuring a jewel heist and the heroine as the amateur detective. I enjoyed the fun tone to the story and some of the surprises that led to mayhem much of the time, but there were some things that didn’t work for me too.
The story opens with William Townsend, the Earl of Harclay, learning from his banker Mr. Hope that Hope will be displaying a gorgeous diamond, The French Blue, at his annual dress-up ball. Harclay is wealthy, lucky at the gaming tables, and a connoisseur of women. He determines to have a bit of his brand of fun and steal Hope’s diamond.
Impoverished and nearly on the shelf just where she wants to be Lady Violet Rutledge attends Mr. Hope’s balls each year and finds them enjoyable. This ball is more sparkling than others before because she is the chosen person to display Hope’s jewel and has the unsolicited attention of one of the biggest womanizers in town, the earl of Harclay. Things go downhill fast when the ball is interrupted by gun fire and mayhem. She is accosted in the crush and soon realizes that the diamond is missing and finds herself carried off purportedly to safety by Harclay.
Harclay is well pleased with himself for how his plan went off without a hitch until he discovers that his mischief has brought grief to others that he didn’t intend and gotten him into trouble that he didn’t anticipate with a ruthless element also after the diamond. He has never felt for a woman the way he feels with Violet and it throws him completely off his game and makes him take a good hard look at his life.
Violet knows who was the thief and now she just needs to find the diamond to prove it and get Mr. Hope’s bank out of trouble where all her remaining funds are invested. While searching for the diamond, she engages the very attracted and attractive Harclay in a game of seduction too. Drawn to him, she never forgets that he’s responsible for her tenuous situation. Then her participation in the hunt for the jewel lands her into deeper more disturbing waters than the playful, irresponsible Harclay.
I was excited about this plot when I read the blurb, but unfortunately I found the promise didn’t quite deliver for me. There are some really enjoyable parts to the story that carried me through some of the stuff that didn’t work for me. The overall plot was good with the stolen diamond that leads to a romance between opposing sides and a darker adventure than both anticipated. The personalities of the characters were engaging too though I found Lady Violet hard to believe. Her character was all over the place from supposed buttoned up man-hating virgin to dirty mouthed, card cheating seductress. I couldn’t take her detecting seriously because it constantly devolved into just a poorly disguised opportunity to get with Harclay. He might have been a bit shallow, but at least he was honest about his wants and his feelings while she tended to lie even to herself. Harclay was bored and selfish at first which caused all the trouble, but I was okay with that because I enjoyed seeing him grow and mature. He owned his wrongs and set out to make them right even when the stakes got high. He tended to grow on me while Violet didn’t really. Her stunt of jumping in front of a dueling pair as they were turning to fire had me rolling my eyes and unable to figure out why she allowed Harclay to take the blame and feel remorseful for it. I also couldn’t figure out why she pushed him away with some flimsy excuse of family obligation when he’s like the wealthiest man in the kingdom so he can deal with all the family financial woes and she loves him- just wasn’t a true barrier. The romance was hot and came on fast, but I didn’t mind that so much as those other inconsistencies I pointed out earlier.
Hope and the other secondary characters were a definite strong point. I found them all engaging particularly the secondary romance involving Harclay’s sister. I hope she gets her own story. Hope’s story is next and while this one was a bit loose for me, I still look forward to that one to see if a different heroine and plot thread will make a difference.
I thought all the side elements from the circus performer assassins to the con against the French royalty just hilarious. I swear that there was a little bit of everything tossed into this one and it was a blast just anticipating what over the top device would be tossed in when you least expected it. I will say that this also distracted from the main story too.
All in all, it was fun if slightly weak in plot and the heroine, it was hot and it had a good intrigue element. I look forward to more from this author. Those who enjoy lighter, but spicy hot historical romance might want to try this one.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.