Top positive review
3.5 stars rounded up to 4
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 20, 2022
I feel like I need to start off with a note that: 1. This is a series that works best if you read all of the previous entries, in order, and 2. You need to be OK with a cliffhanger. The main plot--who kidnapped Lady Juliana--is not resolved by the end of this entry. It will likely not be resolved for another 2 entries.
Now that that's out of the way: This is a charming book overall, but falls just short of excellence. The main problem may be my high expectations; I love the Regency detective trope and really liked Matthew in the last book. However, here I felt like there was too much focus on Juliana's love for animals and her secret group meetings (I wonder when her brother will discover she's still attending those?) and not enough on Matthew's background and what makes him tick. I'm all for working class H's who come from rough and tumble backgrounds, so I was ready for Matthew to show off his gritty side. However, nothing is revealed about his past. Key question: Why did he become a detective? He hints about a violent encounter when he teaches Juliana to defend herself, and this could have been a really interesting discussion, but nothing becomes of it. His family are all warm, kind people and everything seems great with his relationship with them. They're what we'd call today "blue collar" folk, so there is definitely a clash of classes going on, but it's all glossed over. Not even his sisters speak to Juliana about what drives Matthew.
Another thing that bugged me was Giles's, Juliana's brother's, high-handedness. I wasn't a big fan of Giles in the last book--and he was the MMC. Here he's an accusatory snob toward the man who's his half-brother, a doctor who seems like a really decent guy. I thought the whole idea that Giles wanted to cast doubt on a man with a stellar reputation--who should be able to supply many character references, btw--was petty and vindictive. Their relationship is not resolved at the end.
I did think Juliana and Matthew had good chemistry, and although she's a bit spoiled and naive, her heart seems to be in the right place. Their scenes together are nicely steamy. I also thought the vegetarian storyline was unique, although we never got to find out what impact the pamphlets they designed had on the public. Maybe in the next book.
Overall: This is a pleasant, quick read, I just wish Matthew had been sufficiently fleshed out and the storyline with the half-brother had been more satisfactory. I realize Lewis is the H of the next book, so his relationship with the Remingtons may change, but I really don't like all the loose ends.
Steam level: 3.