Reviewed by May
“Gloves off, Miss Marchant – you’ve fallen into a den of monsters that gather here monthly to play their terrible games. A hellfire club, Miss Marchant, if you’ve ever heard the term. Devil horns, hideous costumes, sacrificial altars, the entire gambit of debauchery. They rape women like you for sport, pass them about among them – and that may be the least of it.”
Daisy Marchant took her current governess position because she believed the man had something to do with her sister’s disappearance. She had no idea the depth or scope of “The Society” or that she had inadvertently stepped into something so huge. Valentine Redgrave on the other hand knows exactly what he’s doing in gaining the friendship of the odious Lord Charles Mailer. He knows the man is a part of The Society and it seems that Valentine is going to finally get closer to unmasking more members and destroying the traitorous club his own grandfather founded so many years ago.
This book is a part of Michael’s Redgraves series about Valentine and his siblings, and their efforts to unmask and destroy the society. Of course each falls in love along the way, and while each is tied together with common supporting characters and the plotline about the secret society, they also stand alone fairly well.
As a sometimes agent of the crown and man who spends his life acting whatever part suits him best, Valentine spots Daisy immediately as someone in a costume. As someone playing a part. In accusing her of being a spy though, he reveals more of his story than he should. Suddenly he finds himself with a partner in this risky full moon week in the country as the society gathers.
“I’ll ignore the insult, and assume you aren’t overjoyed by my plan for you. I suppose I should be grateful you aren’t in strong hysterics, actually.”
“I considered them, but discarded the idea in favor of marveling at your arrogance.”
The best part about this book is the conversations between Valentine and Daisy. It is clear to see why they are a match for one another (at least verbally) as well as being highly entertaining. She is not an easily impressed female, nor is she a person who is distracted by his attractiveness or the gimmicks he employs to make people see him as he wishes them to. She sees that like her, he plays a part and the real Valentine is quite simply a good man trying to do right and protect women, children, and those he loves.
Speaking of what I love, I will also mention that his valet Piffkin is fantastic.
“I suggest a swift, straight cut across the windpipe, but from behind, please, as bloodstains are the very devil in the laundry.”
He was such a good anchor for Valentine, and so clearly more companion and friend than servant.
“Piffkin, if you also keep a journal you may want to make a special entry today. Your lifelong charge may be growing up – astonishing, isn’t it?”
“I agree. And at only the tender age of five and twenty. Mind-boggling.”
His comments were often humorous and it really added to Valentine as a character to see him with his lifelong companion and friend in his rooms, where he could be himself and not be putting on a show. It really helped to show us the depth of Valentine’s character, and give us more reason to enjoy and root for him.
She’d just been kissing a man she’d just barely met and knew precious little about. That wasn’t like her, not at all. “We really don’t know one another, do we, yet here we are together, knee-deep in skullduggery. Isn’t that strange.”
Valentine grinned an unholy grin. “For some, I suppose. But not for a Redgrave. It must have something to do with our honest faces, our air of gravitas, our obvious trustworthiness.”
“No, I don’t think it’s any of those,” Daisy countered thoughtfully…
As much as I would love to read about the adventures of Daisy, Valentine, and Piffkin all day long, unfortunately the story just kind of stumbled around for the final third of the book. The real problem I suspect is that the author was busily setting things in motion for the final installment of this series instead of showing us how Daisy and Valentine, who have only known each other mere days, are falling in love.
A big problem for me is that the things revealed and set up towards the end are things I won’t remember when the next book releases. The details will have to be in the next book to refresh our memories and make them relevant, so this really became a huge annoyance to me.
The other thing that bothered me a lot is I felt like there was a lack of a sense of evil and wrongness with the villains. They have no lines, no boundaries they won’t cross, and yet they never came across as serious in this book. Somehow the evil society set on traitorous activities and destroying and even killing women for their own amusement never seemed real. We do see from a distance a tame meeting of theirs in which they discuss plans, and there are despicable plots afoot that are explained to us, but it felt more like it was propped up as a way to give something exciting for our characters to face verses a true threat.
This bothered me as these were very serious and revolting crimes being committed, and it should have felt more disturbing, darker, and more violent. Instead, it had more of an “Oh no, whatever will we do?” lightness. I know this author is capable of getting very strong emotional responses from me, yet I felt completely unmoved by this book which surprised me given the story and how much I enjoyed the characters themselves.
Based on the last third of this story, I would have to only recommend this book to series fans and those who wish to read all of the Redgrave books. As a stand-alone the story of Valentine and Daisy does not get completed in a way that I found satisfying on its own, which really is too bad as they were great characters. I will read on to see the final installment and see the series through, and I hope to see a much more satisfying romance story and not just a bunch of loose ends being tied up neatly.
Other Kasey Michaels reviews