Published By: Central Avenue Publishing
Date Published: 06/07/2021
Date Read: 29/06/2021
Sir Henry, secret agent to the crown, must marry a lady above reproach to afford his illegitimate daughter entrance into society. After narrowly escaping marriage to a highborn bigot, he takes an assignment in Brighton, leading him to an abandoned abbey full of dark whispers, and a sinister secret society, the very one Henry has been investigating for three years.
Isabella is as beautiful as she is talented, but falling in love isn’t part of her plans. She only wants to paint, forget her painful past, and keep her overbearing mother at bay. But gaining one’s independence isn’t easy for a woman in 1823, so Isabella embarks on a fake courtship with Sir Henry. Soon, love and a painting career no longer seem so utterly incompatible.
But when the man Isabella fears most kidnaps her, all appears lost. Realizing the kidnapper is part of the same organisation he is investigating, Henry chases after them. Entrapped in a web of secrets, both Henry and Isabella must face old enemies, and fight for their happily ever after.
CONTAINS MINOR PLOT SPOILERS
Thank you to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for the Advanced Copy of this book in return for an honest review.
I was sent this ARC before I had even read the first in the series, so I had to put this one on the back burner until I’d read that one first. Having devoured the Inkeeper’s Daughter in less than a day, I had high hopes for the sequel once I got stuck in.
Whilst the first book grabbed me instantly, I felt this one had a slower start, but at the same time was busy and rather confusing, I felt there were a lot more characters in this one to keep on top of, and it took me a little longer to get settled into it.
Bianca proves the first novel wasn’t just beginners luck as her writing is as beautiful in this book as it was in the first. She strikes the right balance between enough description and filler to keep the reader interested but no so much that they get bored.
I instantly fell in love with the main character of Henry Marsh in the first book but I felt he wasn’t as loveable in the sequel, but I’m not sure why. He just felt aloof and unsure without his darling Eliza by his side.
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, on the contrary I thought it was very good. But maybe because I came to the first book fresh with no expectations, but with this one, I have something to compare it to, I just felt I wanted more.
It’s nowhere near as explicit as the first one, and is slower paced, but I’d say the final quarter is very fast paced and action packed.
I could really see, with the right publicity, this series becoming the new must read, especially after reading the tantalising preview for book 3. Where’s Reese Witherspoon’s book club when you need it? Get on it Reese!