If you like 100% historical accuracy in your Regency romances, this definitely isn’t the book for you. With a female Bow Street Runner (in all but the salary) and the son of a Duke as romantic protagonists, there are aspects of the story that definitely fail the plausibility test.
That said, it was absolutely brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, yes, I know, I’m normally a nitpicky cow about historical inaccuracies, but there’s a difference between implausible and impossible. It’s implausible that a woman was working for the Bow Street Runners as an unofficial investigator in 1818, whereas it’s impossible (I’m looking at you, Marie Force) to have a horse-drawn carriage travel from Essex to Scotland with a single overnight stop. Just imagine this as a parallel-universe Regency England where women could hold down jobs and were treated with respect, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy it.
Cassandra works for Bow Street unofficially as her twin brother Charlie’s (the actual Runner) assistant, but the reality is she’s the mastermind of the pair. When Charlie breaks his leg on a case while climbing a trellis into a lady’s bedchamber because he fancies himself a Romeo, Cassandra takes the case on alone, and is thrust into company with George, Marquis of Northbrook, who believes someone may be out to kill his father.
George is an absolute delight. Yes, he’s the spoiled and pampered son of a duke, but he’s also a smart sort who can see clearly the devastation his father’s love of gambling and his mother’s addiction to laudanum has wrought. He’s fun and likable and nobody really takes him seriously, but Cassandra not only sees through his facade, she makes him want to be more than an heir in waiting. His willingness to try new things, his near-insatiable curiosity about everything and his acceptance of Cassandra for exactly who she was made him honestly one of my favourite romance heroes in ages.
Suspend your disbelief at the door and just enjoy this charming, witty and clever Regency romance with an enlightened hero and an emancipated heroine. I was delighted, and I definitely want to read more by this author, who I hadn’t encountered before. And on that note, this isn’t the first in the series, but I didn’t find it a problem at all to follow along with the plot and the other characters. Five stars for a great fun read.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from NetGalley.