Nathaniel Roy is a crusading journalist who is determined to expose the secrets of two big name spiritualists currently practicing in London. He sees what they do as an abomination, taking advantage of naïve and grieving people’s trust and pain, and making money off of it. Nathaniel is also sensitive to this because even five years out, he’s still grieving the unexpected death of his lover, Tony. He becomes enraged when he visits a séance performed by Justin Lazarus, and he can’t figure out how the faker does it. He is full of righteous fury.
Justin Lazarus doesn’t care about any of his clients. In fact, he actively despises them. He’s just trying to make enough money to never have to live in the streets again. Born in a workhouse, Justin was plucked out of dire circumstances by his master and trained to use his pickpocketing and other skills, as a medium in training. He’s quick and clever and has a great memory, and those natural talents work well in swindling people at their most vulnerable moments. Nathaniel intrigues him, because he’s not taken in by the act, and because he’s handsome. They have several explosive confrontations that end in various ways (ahem, hate sex), before both of them are pulled into a scandal involving missing secret twins, one of whom is the heir to an earldom, and the violent people who are after them (this is part two of an arc that started in the first book).
I really liked how Justin and Nathaniel’s relationship played out. Justin particularly was a fascinating character, because he had hardened himself so much out of necessity. He wasn’t very nice at the beginning of the book, and certainly taking advantage of all of those people isn’t the behavior of a quality human, but you understand why he does it.
The three book arc is left in a satisfying enough place, with severable problems resolved, but the murderer stirring up all the trouble is still at large. But the book does a good job wrapping up Justin and Nathaniel’s arcs, even as it prepares to move on to the next. Really glad I didn’t let my lukewarm like for the first book prevent me from reading these last two. Scandalous Victorian shenanigans + gender exploration + sex and romance = A Good Time.