Reviewed by May
“Better not turn down the lights.” He said, staring at her, “because I’ve waited too long to see you like this.”
“I’ve wanted to be seen.”
The year is 1886 and the story begins with us watching as Jack Dalton; an inmate at Dunmoor Prison for five years makes a glorious escape. Having heard that the man he attempted to murder is nearby, he can think of nothing but sweet revenge, and getting to kill Lord Rockley at last.
…they called him Diamond because he’d been formed by crushing pressure into the hardest thing to walk the streets of London.
Jack is huge, one of Rockley’s former bodyguards, and he doesn’t he is good for much. All that is about to change though; in fact his whole life is in for a huge twist. When Jack reaches the inn where Lord Rockley is rumored to be staying he finds instead a strange group of people.
“Who the hell are you people?”
She spoke before Marco or Simon could answer. “Nemesis, Unlimited.”
When reading this book I got hints of two of my all-time favorite TV shows – the A-Team or Burn Notice, and I mean that in wonderful ways. I do love a story about a group of strong independent people who kick ass and help out those who can’t get justice through the normal ways. Those people who would otherwise be crushed by the rich, powerful, and corrupt of society. That is what Nemesis, Unlimited works towards and I found their organization to be a fascinating one, each person clearly there because they believe in it wholeheartedly and they are each passionate and have their own skills that they contribute.
The group may have Jack forced into helping them extract revenge on the wicked Lord Rockley, but he is not going down easy. They talk about getting justice, and all he wants is to kill the man that murdered his sister.
What lay ahead, he didn’t know. All he could do was trust her – and he trusted no one. Especially not a woman with strong hands, clever eyes, and a revolver in her reticule.
Eva (an agent with Nemesis) and Jack have chemistry, even as they race back to London on the train it is clear. While each is very aware of the attraction sizzling between them, neither of them is trusting or interested in jumping into a relationship.
“Trust me, Mr. Dalton, no one would ever confuse you with a playful little monkey. Perhaps one of those terrifying gorillas at the zoo. The ones that beat their chest and roar.”
He held up the back of his hands. “Got less hair.”
“Not in certain places, you don’t.”
Heat settled low in his groin. “Going to put that in my file, too?”
“I’ll save that for my own personal records.”
The dialogue between these two, the way they relate to one another in unexpected ways, and the scenes that range from very tender to scorching hot were all excellent. There was a clear development of this relationship as we see Eva open up both sides of her life to someone, and Jack see himself as more than just muscle for the first time in his life. Despite the gritty nature of the book and this not being your lords and ladies type historical, there was great tenderness here. There was a clearly developed, caring relationship that unfolded as the story progressed in a most satisfying way.
The one wish I had, is that there had been more twists and action when it came to Rockley and their plans for him. We are told he is a villain, we are told he’s ruined innocent women even murdered them among other heinous crimes, but we don’t see that action. I would have liked something to happen aside from following him around and trying to figure out where they could get evidence against him.
This book isn’t all riding around spying though – the beginning and end are both action packed. Now this is a historical romance so I embrace the smexy time and a plot that allows together time in the middle– I just would have liked a bit more balance in action from this book.
My wish really is a picky one because this was an excellent read. When it comes to Zoe Archer books my expectations are incredibly high, because she really can deliver the full package and is one of the best historical authors around. Her previous series relied on magical elements of some sort, so to see a straight historical fiction from her was intriguing – and Archer did not disappoint.
One of her signatures is heroines who can hold their own, are smart and capable, and who would never be called simpering or weak! Eva is no exception – she works alongside the men of Nemesis and lives her life as she sees fit.
She was a woman grown, a woman who’d had her share of lovers and was no neophyte where men were concerned.
Despite her experience, there was still a kind of innocence to Eva. She didn’t open herself up or make herself fully available to anyone and I liked watching Jack break down those walls and really get to the heart of her. My one problem with her as a character was at the end. There is a scene that bothered me and I wish the situation had been handled differently by the heroine. This small glitch aside, this is another fine heroine written by Archer.
Only minutes earlier, the parlor had been filled with feminine chatter and the melodic strains of a Schubert waltz. Now it was silent and empty, save for the three unconscious people splayed upon the floor. Eva smiled to herself. Nemesis had been here.
As a series I think this holds amazing potential. I’d like to see perhaps a bit more group work and interaction, a few more twists and action spread throughout the story, but overall this was a fantastic read. This story had me fully invested and unable to put it down, and the writing as I’m sure you can tell from the quotes I’ve included, is spectacular. Zoe Archer continues to show us how historical romance can and should be done. Packed with style, heat, and characters that come to life on the page and pull you fully into their story I definitely recommend Sweet Revenge.