Unlike proper debutantes, Miss Dahlia Grenville is secretly Robin Hood in a bonnet. Her home for wayward girls has too many dependants and not enough donations. But just as she’s about to pull off the heist of the Season, she tumbles straight into the arms of the handsome detective who has sworn to deliver Mayfair’s mysterious thief straight to the gallows.
Highly principled Bow Street runner Simon Spaulding’s world is black and white. There’s no mastermind too clever, no criminal alive who can escape the hangman. Until he realizes the delightful young lady he’s been courting is a liar and a thief. Suddenly, his career—and his heart—are in peril. How can he bring her to justice when it means losing her forever?
From Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is the third in the “Lord of” series, and therefore a companion piece to Lord of Pleasure. It’s standalone enough for me to not twig for the first few chapters and there is little overlap between the two stories.
Dahlia is unusual in that she spends much of her time at the School, teaching the children many of the things they will need to go into service – cleaning, cooking, etc, whilst also teaching them a little “fun” like dancing and acrobatics (another word for “self protection”). Mainly girls, these pupils are the type that would otherwise end up on the street, usually as prostitutes, as they have little education and no money. However, it is the lack of fee paying students, and the loss of much needed donations, that has forced Dahlia into pilfering small objects from the homes of her wealthy friends in order to pawn them. Her domineering mother cant see the point of spending all this time on the school, wants Dahlia to get married, and reminds her that her father “is far too busy” to talk to her.
Spaulding comes across Dahlia one evening when she is rescuing a girl from a potential rape. Despite seeing things in black and white, he soon becomes infatuated with this rebellious woman who wears trousers to teach her pupils to dance. A man with few friends, mainly as a result of a constant desire to work, he is on the hunt for the Mayfair Thief. He inveigles his way into a gambling club on the dodgy edge of the posh part of town, only to find that some of the clientele are titled gentry – including his half brother Hawksbridge (who was born on the right side of the blanket).
Both leads have issues with their families – Dahlia with her mother, and Spaulding with his brother, who he thinks got the good end of the bargain on everything (but Hawksbridge thinks Spaulding got the best of everything, as he is not restricted by having a title).
Despite how she spends most of her days (and nights), Dahlia is still able to keep her good name within society, and gets invited to plenty of soirees where she has the chance to pilfer stuff. She is ultimately caught by Spaulding, who has laid a trap over something that Dahlia cannot resist. Therefore Simon on presented with the choice of dobbing in the woman he loves, or ignoring the fact that she’s been stealing things, even if the people do get their goods back.
There is an unusual twist on the “sexy time”, which makes for a little surprise.
Great addition to the series!