I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
I broke a personal cardinal rule here, I started in the middle of a series. Now I didn’t realize it was a series when I requested it, the heroine just intrigued me so I grabbed it. But when I went to put it into Goodreads to track it, I definitely saw that it was a series. The heroine, “brilliant, beautiful chaos in a ball gown” still demanded I read her though (when the predominant description is intelligence-yeah, an author likely has her hooks into me for it), so I went for it.
And I am happy to say that this can indeed be read as a stand-alone. You can tell that there are books before it, and those stories are mentioned, but it didn’t feel like there was anything we missed regarding the two main protagonists, so I was satisfied with my choice to start here. I will say though, willful suspension of disbelief is an absolute requirement here, so if that isn’t something you can manage, this may not be the book for you.
Josephine “Joss” Summerhall is not your average English lady. She’s widely traveled, knows multiple languages and has worked as an interpreter, and she reads widely and has opinions on most any topic under the sun. She’s smart, almost fearless, and definitely relentless and dauntless. Which is hardly surprising with an eccentric mother who carries around live chickens. Don’t worry she has her reasons too, and she is the main reason I am so inclined to read the preceding books.
Heath Hextall however, far from being the teasing youth who put toads down her dress when she was younger, has turned into something of a stuffy prig and thinks he wants to find a nice, boring, respectable wife. Unfortunately for us, he remains wrong-headed for entirely too long, but I will admit that isn’t entirely his own fault, Joss helped keep that unsettled for entirely too long as well.
The book focuses mainly on their relationship and them learning what they thought they saw and knew of each other wasn’t entirely accurate, and the romance portions of it were quite sweet, even when you wanted to beat some sense into their heads.
Where willful suspension of disbelief comes in is with the mystery. That was some crazy sauce, and the shenanigans surrounding it were quite insane, particularly Joss’ parts in it. But if you are prepared to put that aside, then it was a fun, mysterious romp that has the potential to keep you entertained throughout. Just don’t take it too seriously and I think you’ll find it an enjoyable read.