Charity Llewellyn, 19, looks forward to her wedding, but upon learning that her intended groom is Mathias Baptiste, the immoral son of a wealthy banker, she runs away from home to avoid the betrothal. Angry at her attempt, her father appoints a handsome and mysterious man, Alexander Sutton, as her constant chaperone.
Furious, Charity plots an escape with help from her friend Lillian, although that leads to involvement in an unsolved 20-year old murder and a shallow burial of human bones. As she tries to unravel the secrets of the old murder, she meets a frightening man who could be Jack the Ripper.
But that’s not her only obstacle. As she and Alexander grow closer, she learns a dark secret he’s been keeping and when Mathias finds them together, he’s overcome with rage and will stop at nothing to get her back, not even murder.
Suspense and mystery added to the pot, gives this story a darker tone than some may be accustomed to in a historical romance. Personally, I like this combination of romantic suspense and historical romance which is a nice change of pace.
Charity’s father has kept her under virtual lock and key until the day arrives when she should be married. When she discovers who her father has chosen for her, a brutal man named Mathias Baptiste, Charity begins to take charge of her life in order to save herself, not only from a loveless marriage, but from being abused for the rest of her life.
Charity’s attempts to avoid marriage introduced her to Mr. Alexander Sutton, a man who has been hired by her father as a temporary bodyguard, his sole purpose being to make sure Charity arrives at the party where her betrothal is to be announced. However, Alexander is outed as the son of a former law officer, who now stands accused of murder.
For those who know me and follow my reviews online, you know that I have come to detest fluffy period novels with no substance, and an incredibly inaccurate portrayal of women’s hardships in this era of time, mainly by sugarcoating them. However, in this instance, the author got a little heavy handed with the cruelty to women. Every man in this book was mean, cruel and nasty, even Alexander, Charity’s love interest was cold, harsh, and mostly apathetic to Charity’s situation, (or ran hot and cold towards her) and not all that sexy or romantic much of the time.
The women is the story are not much better, with Charity starting off being “too stupid to live”, her best friend being very obtuse at times, although she does redeem herself somewhat, and Charity’s mother is just plain useless, making all the women in the book appear naïve, tepid, or silly.
However…. Charity does progress and grow quite nicely as the story moves along. She is still stuck in her situation and is left with little or no recourse, but to flee, if she can. I liked seeing her break out of her shell and take charge of her life, at least as much as she was able.
The mystery is a secondary plot line and eventually connects to people Charity is closely associated with. Initially, I found the set up with Alexander’s absentee father being accused of murder and leaving his son alone to take the heat and suffer a tarnished reputation, a bit odd. The evidence was circumstantial but very overwhelming. So, we cheer Alexander on as he tries to uncover the truth, with some help from Charity and her friend, although unwittingly.
The murder plot was a tad transparent in some places as you will most likely be able to ascertain who is involved, but there are still a few surprises and twist along the way.
The mystery part of the story is what kept me from sinking into utter frustration with some of the characters and events in the book. I stuck with it mainly to see the mystery solved and to see how Charity would manage to wrangle herself out the arranged marriage to Mathias. I was beginning to wonder if she would be free of this horrible man and if Alexander would simply stand by and watch it happen.
But, in the end Charity made me proud and I was glad to see she was happy, even it I did wish she had been able to experience more sigh worthy romantic elements. Overall, the story has some flaws, and it wasn’t exactly one I would gush over or highly recommend, but I found it enjoyable enough that I read it all the way through. So, if you like your historical novels with a slight edge, with a bit of mystery and suspense, you might want to give this one try.