The Vixen by Christi Caldwell
Ophelia Killoran is the vixen of the title, a woman unlike any other in all of London. Daughter of Mac Diggory, once the feared crime king of London’s seedy underworld, she and her siblings have built a new life for themselves as proprietors of a prosperous gaming hell. Now her brother wants her to marry a lord to cement their place in polite society.
Once upon a time, Connor Steele was one of Diggory’s street kids, and a girl with white hair saved his life. He repaid the debt by letting himself be taken up in her place when she was caught picking a lord’s pocket, and ended up adopted by that kindly lord. Now, he’s an investigator searching for the kidnapped son of a marquis, which brings him to the Killoran siblings and the street children they take in and provide with a better life. Encountering Ophelia, he’s stunned to recognise her as the girl he called Lagertha, the only one who showed even a hint of compassion to him in those days. Extraordinarily beautiful, the Jewel of St. Giles is destined for better things than a mere investigator, however, and he has his adoptive father’s expectations to contend with as well.
To be honest, I found it very hard to suspend disbelief that Mac Diggory hadn’t sold a girl as beautiful as Ophelia into prostitution long before she reached adulthood. He could have received far more as a one-off payment for her use from some depraved type with a taste for children than he could get out of her as a pickpocket or palm reader. It didn’t make sense that someone as horrific as Diggory was purported to be wouldn’t have made use of the asset to maximum monetary potential.
I also had issues with Connor not going back for Ophelia. Did it not occur to him to admit to his adoptive father, once he felt reasonably secure, what he’d done? Not occur to him to go back and try to save the one who saved him, from the hell he escaped? I thought much less of him for not making that effort. I’m afraid I also didn’t buy the daughter of a crime lord being invited to rub shoulders with the Ton. Beauty and wealth alone didn’t buy you acceptance, and she’d have been given the cut direct by society hostesses, certainly not considered as a bride by any but the most desperate of titled gentleman.
Although I liked Ophelia and Connor’s romance, all these impossible things I was being asked to believe got to be too much. This is well written and gives a good glimpse into the seedier underside of 1820s London not usually touched on in historical romances, but anyone familiar with the social customs of the day is just not going to be able to suspend their disbelief enough to enjoy it. I can’t give it any more than three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title for review through NetGalley.