American sisters Joanna and Evie Thorncroft are in London to search for a valuable ring stolen from them, not only the one thing which might keep their family from poverty but also a clue to who Joanna’s real father might be. Penniless but determined, Joanna convinces private detective Thomas Kincaid to take on their case, in return she’ll do secretarial work for him.
Sparks fly between Joanna and Thomas from the first moment… and to be honest, I actually found it a little uncomfortable. The first meeting was told from Thomas’s point of view, and he was frankly a bit creepy, perving on Joanna and, most revoltingly, fantasising about her and her sister TOGETHER when Joanna told him she had a sister. This really took me quite a while to get past, even though he did behave with complete decorum outwardly and it was eventually Joanna who made the first move.
The other thing that bothered me about the book is that Joanna isn’t actually a bluestocking. She’s not particularly scholarly or literary. Compared to her sister Evie she’s disinterested in appearances, but she’s still happy to dress up and look nice when the occasion calls for it. I was also bemused as to why two women from a family that struggled to put food on the table had silk dresses and pearl earrings and necklaces to wear. It didn’t quite add up.
I felt like there was also a lot of work being done to introduce characters who are obviously going to get their own book later in the series - Joanna’s sister Evie is presumably next, and I’m guessing her cousin, the girl with the pet squirrel, is going to get matched up with the duke who hates small animals. It was all telegraphed a bit too hard and I think could have been left for those later books, in favour of concentrating a bit harder on Joanna and Kincaid’s romance. I struggled a bit as to why they actually ‘loved’ each other. We didn’t get to see them spend enough time together when they weren’t trying to rip each others’ clothes off.
I didn’t hate this - the worldbuilding was good, and I really liked, well, pretty much all the female characters including Joanna. But there were a lot of things which bothered me, most particularly Thomas being a bit of a pervy creep. I’ll give it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.