Queen Victoria’s London is a teeming metropolis of pageantry, forbidden desire, and danger—especially in the East End, a hotbed of vice, witchcraft, and murder. What widow Lady Maggie Graham does there more than greases the rumor mill. When she agrees to wed the Viscount Langdon, there are those who would act upon their suspicions . . .
Experience has taught Lord Jamie well. He has seen his fair share of women behave inappropriately—enjoying risqué amusements in secret theatres, running about disguised in the seediest parts of the city—and then they call you vile names for coming to their rescue. And no woman is more shameless, more cunning, more intoxicating than Lady Maggie . . .
If you’ve read my blog before, or know me in real life, you know that I basically think Heather Graham is an author Goddess/Queen/Unicorn who is basically every complimentary word in the world. With that said…I’ve never read any of her historical romance books before. I started with the Krewe of Hunters (and am still puzzled on why I haven’t yet been asked to join, but that’s a conversation for another day). So when I was approved to read this through NetGalley, I was super excited.
My first thoughts? Like, my initial reaction within the first two chapters? I was totally missing out by not reading these. I normally don’t for for historical because sometimes, I find them hard to follow. Especially with certain dialects and different verbiage, I have found myself spending more time trying to figure out what is happening versus really enjoying the book.
That was NOT the case with this book. Heather Graham tied in some more common language in with the more proper English of 1800’s London, which made it easy to follow and understand the meaning.
The story starts with Maggie and her brother, Justin, receiving a visit from their uncle Angus. Justin had been encouraged to go out with the upper class and has gambled away any of the family fortunes that is left to care for Maggie and Justin. Maggie is already somewhat of an outcast in society because she married a policeman, who was considered a commoner. Since he was killed in the line of duty, Maggie is now widowed. The only option for Justin or Maggie is that one of them marries into another family with money. Maggie agrees to marry Lord Charles, who comes calling with his nephew, Sir James Langdon.
James, aka Jamie, and Maggie have instant attraction, but their initial interactions are ice cold because he knows Maggie is marrying for money. One aspect I really loved of this book was that it doesn’t hold back on the concept of arranged marriages or the secret lives of the wealthy upper class. I actually found it amusing that the only person who seemed naive or unaware is Maggie, and she was always the one working with the poor and not focusing on the upper class and royalty.
I don’t want to give away the story because Heather Graham has a complex story and she ties in several facets that really brought the story full circle. I loved that there is the complexity of adding in Jack the Ripper to the story. I’ve always loved that Heather Graham has an air of mystery in her stories, and I appreciated that even though I was reading a historical romance, I was getting a lot of the suspense and mystery that I love from her.
As someone who has always loved crime shows, and wanted to be a criminologist at one point in time, I always appreciate the research that goes into every Heather Graham book I’ve ever read. I’m very familiar with Jack the Ripper and have seen numerous documentaries on the story, the theories, the letters written to police, crime photos, etc. The facts that Heather posts in this story are accurate but she tied them into her story so well. Those murders were, and still are, terribly gruesome, but I respected how Heather tied this in. Jack the Ripper is happening simultaneously as the story is told but I never felt like that angle was being exploited. I think, of all authors I’ve read, Heather really is able to incorporate sometimes taboo or terrible real things and yet not make them being abused or exploited in her story.
I would absolutely recommend this book. As someone who has read around 15 other books by her, I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on her historical books this whole time. This book was fantastic and I absolutely loved every minute of it.