The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell is the fourth book in the Sinful Brides series, centred on the loves of a ‘family’ of former street urchins, who grew up to become proprietors of the Hell and Sin Club, a notorious gambling den located in the mean streets of St. Giles.
If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, you may find yourself a little confused, as I was, about how five street orphans managed to bridge the impossible gap between near-starvation and homelessness, and being the owners of a club raking in huge profits and holding the debts of dukes. It may be explained in the earlier books in the series, but it certainly wasn’t in this one. Therefore, if you haven’t read the earlier books, you’re probably not going to get the most out of this one.
That said, this is a really good Regency romance. Lady Eve Pruitt may be the sister of a duke, but she’s certainly no spoilt Society miss. Her brother is an absolute cad, and an inveterate gambler desperately in need of funds he can only access by getting his hands on Eve’s dowry. Shocked when he sends another lord to her room to compromise her, Eve flees her home with little more than the clothes on her back and no real place to go. Fortunately, she has a marketable skill in her bookkeeping abilities, honed by helping her father, and a friend recommends her to a position at the Hell and Sin Club.
Calum is in charge of the club, with two of his ‘brothers’ away on their wedding trips. He and Eve met once before, though he doesn’t recognise her now; she was just nine on the night when her brother stabbed Calum and tried to get him hanged. Desperate, Eve conceals her knowledge of their prior acquaintance, and of course you just know that’s going to come back to bite her.
It’s the mark of a great storyteller when the reader just can’t quite figure out how things are going to turn out all right, and yet somehow the author manages to tie up a bunch of loose plot threads and make it all work out happily ever after. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, but I know for sure I’d have enjoyed it more if I’d read the earlier books in the series. Because of this issue with the book as a standalone novel, I have to deduct one star and give it four.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.