This just never really clicked for me. I’m going to try a couple more books by this author and see how it goes, though. I had a good enough time with it, but I never really connected with the characters outside of a handful of moments, and I didn’t think the main couple really connected with each other, either. I also felt the central premise was kind of wasted.
It started out pretty great. I like the concept of the feuding families being the center of the series, along with the village of Pennyroyal Green. There was a tone in the prologue of coziness and intrigue that I really responded to. And the first several chapters were great, also! Colin Eversea, a notorious rogue whose face often graces the scandal sheets, is about to be hanged for a murder he did not commit. Madeleine Greenway is the mercenary hired to rescue him. Only, it turns out that whoever hired her wants her dead, and Colin presumably alive (even though they seem to be the same person that framed him in the first place, and it’s all very confusing). The two of them enter into a partnership to try and figure out what’s going on.
This is when I say the premise was wasted, because although there are glimpses of Madeleine knowing her trade and being awesome, mostly it’s just the two of them going from one location to another and talking to a new person who holds a new clue, and it is very basic. She’s supposed to be this great mind, and he’s supposed to be a rascal, and they do nothing that is very interesting. The conclusion of why Colin was framed, and why they wanted Madeleine dead also wasn’t very compelling to me.
But the real waste was that most of the interactions between Colin and Madeleine felt empty to me. Long did that thing that I hate, when authors substitute physical attraction for the characters actually getting to know each other. It all just felt like empty flirty banter to me, even when they were supposedly falling in love against their wills or whatever. I just did not buy it. Most of this felt very constructed and rote, and it could have been so much fun. Also! Colin was supposed to be in love with this Louisa character the whole book, but he thinks absolutely nothing of sexually desiring Madeleine the whole book, acting on that desire in little ways, then straight up having sex with her, all the while planning to still marry Louisa (who is set to marry his brother Marcus now instead of him, due to the whole “being hanged” situation). Sure, they’re “broken up”, or the Regency equivalent of that, but it’s still gross.
All in all, not a bad read, but not one I’d really recommend either.