I do like strong heroines, women who can look after themselves, you can think for themselves, who are not dependent to someone else to take care of them or to provide for them. Therefore when I read the description of Anabelle Bryant new book on NetGalley I knew this would be a book I would enjoy. And it didn’t disappoint.
Scarlett Wynn is a woman that had a really tough childhood. She was not the daughter of a nobleman, not even the daughter of a merchant, or a daughter of a wealthy man. She only knew her mother, who has fought to her last breath for their survival. So she knows that life can be really cruel to women that are born poor and with little or no power. So when her seamstress suddenly disappears she is determined to find out why. Thanks to her training she is not afraid to venture in the night with the company of her knives, following the few clues she can find to an upscale brothel. There she meets Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, who is trying to solve a mystery as well.
Ambrose has his own place in society. He is one of the Prince’s advisors, someone to be respected and with power in the House of Lords. He has his and his family’s name and reputation to protect. No scandals should break out at no cost. But when he finds himself in a wild goose chase he comes to understand that there is a whole different world apart from his own. One that real people with families live in, people with no privilege. And that these people deserve as much as he does when it comes to safety and freedom. This new knowledge has come from the woman he cooperates in order to do a noble act and solve a mystery that was revealed to him. As their cooperation and investigation proceeds, the two of them realize that their interests are connected rather tightly to a string of missing women, which they are both very much determined to uncover. But the waters they are sailing are rather deep and they may find themselves in danger.
One of the tropes that are found in historical romances is the noble commoner trope and this is what we have here as well. They come from different worlds and from different pasts. Ambrose has only lived the life of a Duke, or the life of someone destined to become a Duke, so he only knows that life. He is not taught about the poor neighborhoods of London and the people that try to survive in those muddy streets. He may hold a position in the House of Lords, but he barely knows the people he speaks for or the ones his decisions affect. On the other hand Scarlett grew up in those muddy streets but she found a way to come out as clean as possible. She knows how to defend herself because that was the only way she could stay alive without anyone looking after her. She has seen too many women being treated worse than animals and she has vowed to defend them. She knows how different her world is from the ton and she knows those people don’t see life clearly. They see it through the prism of their own life.
The mystery was there from the beginning. There were fighting scenes that one would not expect from a woman of Scarlett’s era, but they were a refreshing touch, if I may say. Parts of the mystery were pretty obvious very early, but it didn’t bother me as I was not reading this book for the mystery plot. I knew it was a historical romance, and this is were the plot was going to focus. Which was a good thing though as the romance part was really good. We had the different worlds, the different pasts and the second thoughts they both had.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable story to read. This is the first book in The Maidens of Mayhem series and I can’t wait for the next!
Thank you to NetGalley & Kensington Books for an advance copy of this book. The views expressed are my personal and honest opinion.