Not entirely certain why people didn’t like this book or found the main characters’ change of heart abrupt! I very much enjoyed this short-ish novel, very much in the vein of other “historical ladies push against the strictures of proprietary behavior and exact lady justice on evil doers…but with FRISSON.”
In this novel is one of my favorite tropes: former lovers! Miss (aka not Lady) Caroline Hardcastle (who goes by Caro) runs a column with her friend, the highborn Lady Katherine where they talk about crimes, especially those that are gendered. Lady Katherine is happily married to a detective cop inspector type, after an adventure that presumably took place in the first book in this series. Caroline was at one point betrothed to Valentine Thorne (these names) the “spare” who has now become the heir after the untimely death-without-issue of his elder brother. Val, however, showed an utter lack of backbone to defend her against his father’s little minded beliefs about the non-high born, and so Caroline broke off her engagement.
That all in the past, revealed via backstory during the current crisis, wherein one of Caroline and Katherine’s saloon friends, an actress by the name of Effie who is engaged to Valentine’s cousin (stay with me) has been straight up kidnapped. It’s off to the races to figure out what’s happened to Effie, dealing with the period appropriate sexism and misogyny in the theater community, and convenient marriages of convenience to salvage reputations. You know. The usual!
Don’t know what else to say here–this is a pretty rollicking book, that flips along through all the normal beats (they Must Get Married but Cannot Be Fond of One Another! Maybe He is Fond of Her! Maybe She is Fond of Him! Life in Danger! Truth will Out!) with an additional element of mystery that I found engaging. Is this a new genre of historical romances? Because I am very into this “ladies who deal with issues” trope.