Top critical review
Enjoyable * Spoilers if you haven't read the previous books*
Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2018
Lady Eugenia's impetuous nature has landed her in a scandal of such epic proportions that not even her influential family can save her reputation. Genie decided that she's #sorrynotsorry and in another scandalous pursuit decides to indulge her passions in headwear and get a job as a milliner. Enter Lord Holstoke, former fiancee of Genie's older sister Maureen, he's a quiet, starchy peculiar sort of fella whose mother was a horrible psychopath. Holstoke is horrified to find Genie working like a commoner and gets all riled up, she finds his uncommon lapse of emotional control kinda sexy, he thinks she's a walking scandal but damn if he can't stop thinking about her. While these two are fighting their inconvenient attraction to each other, someone is poisoning some high society ladies and all of a sudden Holstoke is in the sights of Bow Street. Genie in all her impulsive glory decides to lie to give him an alibi and tells the investigators that Holstoke can't possibly be their guy because he has spent all his days and nights with her like the studmuffin he is. Holstoke can't believe her nerve and decides that the only way to keep her from completely ruining herself is by proposing marriage. The murders continue and it is clear that the perpetrator is a copycat killer who has set his sights on Holstoke's sister Hannah. Holstoke is determined to keep his family safe, prove his innocence while seducing his scandalous wife.
This was another solid entry in the series, however, I found had several issues with it that kept me from enjoying it as much as some of the previous books. My first problem was Genie. I felt her character was a little underdeveloped and she was pretty much a caricature of a rebellious heroine but it was all told and not shown. I also had a problem with Holstoke, though I thought he was better developed than Genie. On the surface, Holstoke is one of my favorite types of heroes. Quiet, starchy, scientific but hiding a storm of emotional intensity or as I like to call this type of hero a gentleman in the streets but a freak between the sheets. Le sigh. Anyway, Holstoke is referred to as peculiar or in other words a weirdo and that's fine if his personality had been balanced but I found him just peculiar and that's just not sexy. The author tried to balance him out by introducing a part of his personality he repressed, namely anger and strong emotions, that he referred to as the darkness. But I found this plot device confusing at first like is he mentally ill but no he's just a control freak or something. I did enjoy the plot and the mystery surrounding the murders but at the same time I felt like it took away from the development of the main romance so I found there was quite a bit of insta lust/love especially on the hero's part, instead of a slow organic development. I also enjoyed the hints of the next book's (I hope!) hero and heroine Holstoke's tortured sister Hannah and the delicious Bow Street runner Jonah. In fact I enjoyed it and them so much I immediately lost interest in the main love story and wanted more of these two.
In the end, this was a well written, solid entry in the series and while I enjoyed it I found myself less invested in the love story and more intrigued by the secondary characters and the mystery. I am really looking forward to the next book and fingers crossed that poor Hannah finally gets a well deserved HEA. I recommend this book to readers of the series. For those new to it do not start here. This book does not stand alone, in my opinion as it is a huge spoiler for books 6 and 7.