Author: Brianna Labuskes
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: September 26, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
When the unconventional Gemma Lancaster embarked on a mission to infiltrate high society and avenge her beloved cousin’s murder she never would have guessed she’d end up in the arms of a thief. At least, that’s what she assumes when she discovers Lucas Stone breaking into a private safe.
Lucas Stone, the Earl of Winchester, has a reputation for arrogance and a soft-spot for his sister, which is how he ends up in the predicament of hiding behind a curtain at midnight with the dreadfully dull Miss Gemma Lancaster. But he soon discovers appearances can be deceiving when the country mouse turns into a spitfire in front of his eyes and she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him.
Though one is chasing a blackmailer and the other a murderer, they quickly realize they are on the hunt for the same villain. Now they must work together, which would be fine, if they could decide if they’d rather fall in love or kill one another.
The bespectacled country bumpkin with no fashion sense is the disguise Gemma Lancaster uses to traipse around ton unnoticed in order to discover who murdered her cousin. The only one who sees through the disguise is Lucas Stone, the infuriatingly handsome Earl of Winchester. The same man who finds Gemma in a gentleman's study one night. Since he's also searching for a villain, someone who's been blackmailing his sister, it makes perfect sense for the two to combine their forces in their pursuit of, as they come to believe, the same culprit.
And the easiest way for them to spend a lot of time together under the watchful, gossipy eyes of the ton is to claim to be affianced. But the fake engagement soon starts to become something more...
I chose this book simply based on the excerpt—the first chapter—on the author's website. And I must say the beginning of the story was quite promising. The premise was indeed quite promising.
Unfortunately, the story was soon bogged down with a mystery too many, a secondary romance that didn't take well with me, because I didn't much care about the chit, and unnecessary filler in the form of different issues dealing mostly with the MCs inner scars, and incessant parties, coach rides, strolls around parks, and chatter about finding the villain instead of concentrating on actually doing anything about it.
The main characters were nice, somewhere around the middle ground, actually, not really making any impressions, though I wouldn't call the characterization bland, and the villain was nicely insane, though the reveal of his identity was no surprise, since I deduced who it was from the second scene he appeared in. Once the initial "novelty" wore off, the whole story slowed down considerably (maybe it could've been shorter and the plot more condensed instead of stretched so far it became thin), and though some sort of predictability is expected, since the HEA between the MC is accepted in any romance, I didn't appreciate the predictability in the villain department. Though, I should give the story points for veering off the template hero-saves-the-damsel routine.