Friday 4 September 2015

#CBR7 Book 80: "Lady Be Good" by Meredith Duran

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Lily Monroe is trying to make a better life for herself, working hard to acheive the dreams her dead sister had for them about becoming a respectable gentlewoman and rising above their poor backgrounds in London's East End. She now calls herself Lilah Marshall and is one of the hostesses at Everleigh's Auction House, making a decent living. Unfortunately, her uncle needs her to do him one last favour, involving the use of some of her thieving skills to acquire some documents. Lilah's dirty deed is witnessed by one of the auction house's prominent customers, Viscount Palmer, who doesn't hesitate to blackmail her for assistance with his own business.

A lauded war hero, Christian "Kit" Stratton is the toast of London. He is desperate to stop the madman who has sworn to kill each and every member of Christian's family and after discovering a distinctive candlestick at the Everleigh Auction Rooms, it is obvious its owners have a connection with his enemy. Now Palmer needs to get close to Miss Catherine Everleigh, and after discovering that her trusted employee, Miss Marshall has a nefarious past, he is more than willing to use one woman to get close to the other. Tempting Miss Everleigh with a house full of antiquities he needs to have appraised, he insists that the enigmatic Lilah Marshall come with her as her assistant. He wants to Lilah to steal any correspondence of Catherine's and show it to him, or he will reveal her true background and most likely get her fired.

While Catherine initially has little time for Lilah and mostly seems to detest her, certainly complicates matters somewhat. Christian also claims that he intends to propose marriage to Miss Everleigh, but it's Lilah he really seems to be forming a connection with, as she meets him in his office every evening to report on Miss Everleigh's correspondence.

Meredith Duran always tends to go for heroes with dark pasts and complicated emotional issues. Kit is celebrated as a war hero wherever he goes, but was captured after a battle, tortured and lives with the knowledge that a madman with a deep personal grudge against him had his older brother murdered. Always meant to be the spare, Kit feels unprepared for the duties of the title and holdings he now possesses and he struggles to keep his mother and his sister safe, without being able to confide in them about his fears.

In Lilah Kit recognises someone else who presents a cheerful and spotless exterior to the world, while all manner of interesting secrets rumble under the surface. He doesn't feel the need to act the hero with her, instead acting in a very underhanded and imperious fashion, hoping to keep her from growing as attached to him as he is getting to her. Knowing that anyone close to him could be his nemesis' next victim makes him cautious, but Lilah's background and experience has made her strong and resourceful, and she refuses to be coddled or protected.

While I occasionally found the plot in turns a bit slow then convoluted, I really enjoyed this book. I didn't love it as much as Fool Me Twice, her last one, but as I consider that one of the best romances I've read in years, it was going to struggle to measure up. Since I'm about a month behind on my reviews, I actually have the sequel to this, featuring the romance between Catherine Everleigh and Lilah's mob boss uncle already lined up on my E-reader. They have an interesting encounter in the latter half of this book, and I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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