Lucius Reese, we are told is, 'a man of many titles, none of them revered by the peerage: rakehell, philanderer, and bastard most of all.' Luke, one of the partners of the gambling palace, the Underworld, is a man in pain. His son Nate has been kidnapped by his half-brother, Viscount Dursley.
Lady Georgina Harwood has fled her family situation and comfortable home in Mayfair to a cottage in Coventry and is currently employed by a local peer as a governess. (Mind you I find the whole cooking episode a bit like Marie Antoinette playing at being a dairymaid)
Luke and Georgina meet because Luke discovers that Georgina the governess can prove that Nate was in Dursley's hands.
There are lovely moments of whimsy in Luke and Georgina's interactions. Such as Georgina and Luke's individual reflections about each other at the inn. Luke is in room four and Georgina in room three, across the hall from each other. Georgina is taken by fours and Luke by threes.
Four times... Ahh! A rather quirky and lovely piece of writing. Four wheels on a carriage.
Four suits in a deck of cards. Clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts.
Luke is fixated on three! Three times Luke had seen Georgina's hair unbound. Three times ... more whimsy! This moment really struck me. The whimsy in these moments, when the lead characters reflect about the other, is captivating. These are wonderfully endearing insights.
In between the serious business of finding his son Nate, Luke is becoming more and more enamoured of Georgina, as she is with him.
The thing is I find Georgina moves between believable actions and then moments of inanity. Why does she place herself in situations that are dangerous. She is so much more than the impulsive young woman these moments reveal. And yet, sometimes she walks in, turns around and finds herself in an unlooked for situation because she's not paying attention. She has no street smarts. But then she wasn't raised with the need for any so maybe she's really being true to her character.
I did find myself at times flipping through the pages of specific sexual encounter looking for the storyline.
The charged teasing play at the dining table was great--measured and mischievous but there was just too many pages given to the bedroom type play. The story didn't need it. This was the deciding factor for me between four and five stars.
I had wondered why Lord Dursley would steal Nate. I had already seen the reason as a possibility but had discounted it.
Likeable characters placed tin interesting situations give this story a certain panache.
A NetGalley ARC