Dear Ms. Stuart,
This was the first book of yours I read and I’m glad I knew ahead of time that your heroes can be fairly dark. It helped me to like Alastair MacAlpin much more than I would have.
He is the famous jewel thief the Cat who steals from the rich, often while a guest at their parties but who also sometimes enters homes via the roof a la Connie Brockway’s All Through the Night. She is an impoverished noblewomen trying to support her mother and sister by doing Tarot readings for the nobility. He sees her at a party and decides to seduce her just for fun while she’s trying to maintain her diginity and find a wealthy husband for her younger sister. She’s been doing some card readings for a sleazy Bow Street Runner to help him nab criminals but he’s started to take too much of an interest in Fleur, the younger sister and is pressing Jessamine to do a reading to tell him who the Cat is. Everything comes to a climax on the night that Alastair decides to do his greatest heist, the last big one before retirement.
Alastair was a deliciously amoral hero. He decides to seduce Jessamine just because he can and he’s looking for some relief of his boredom. He has no intention of marrying her at all. Jessamine, or Jess, is hanging onto her virtue and keeping her family off the mean streets of 1775 London by the skin of her teeth and has no use for a decadent shark in Georgian clothing. There is a great secondary romance for Fleur and the ending has the villain Runner getting his just desserts in a spectacular way.
‘For a moment all was eerily silent. Jessamine struggled to her knees, peering through the ill-lit darkness as Alastair suddenly loomed large.
“Holy Mother of God,” he said softly, “Remind me never to annoy you when you’re near a weapon, dear heart.”
“Did I kill him?” she asked, aghast.
“I’d say so,” Alastair murmered.’
It’s fun to watch Alastair deny then struggle against his growing feelings for Jess while she is coming to the horrifying realization that she’s falling in love with a man she knows will leave her. But in the end, who are they to deny fate? B+