It’s been eight months since the previous novel when Sebastian St. Cyr and Kat Boleyn called off their relationship, and she married Russell Yates. Sebastian has spent those eight months drinking, avoiding his father, and generally checked out. However, when Hero Jarvis witnesses a murder and cover up while doing research on prostitutes and their conditions at the Magdalene House (a home to help “fallen women” back into society), she appeals to Sebastian for his help. Her father, Jarvis, ordered the cover up to protect her name, though he is of course independently pursuing the men responsible, but Hero wants to know the truth, and can think of only one man that might be willing to stand up against her father’s will and be interested in justice for these women. Sebastian surprises himself by agreeing to initially help her, and by staying involved beyond that. Certainly, there is some satisfaction in making Jarvis angry but he is drawn into the investigation for reasons beyond that.
One of the reasons Hero is affected by the events is that the woman who died in her arms, Rose, spoke with an upper class accent. While Rose might not be the only woman from the middle class and above that ended up on the streets after a mistake, Hero sees an alternate version of what her life could have been if things had been different. Her hunch proves itself correct, and Sebastian and Hero soon discover Rose’s real identity. As they dig into Rose’s past life and interact with her family and friends, the question quickly becomes if Rose’s former life was coming back to haunt her, if her family was trying to cover something up or if something else entirely led to Rose’s murder and the killing of everyone in the house?
After only having brief interactions with Hero in the previous novels, either involving Sebastian or her father, I had been waiting for Hero to finally leave the supporting cast and become a main player. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with Sebastian, and mostly found the mystery satisfying, especially regarding Rose’s past life and her reasons for running. Harris also throws in some historical events to provide context and richness to the narrative.