This is the third book in a series that are all loosely tied together by a villain called Batiste, his search for the Pharoah's Lost Jewel and those that oppose him. Kind of. I haven't yet read the 'first' book, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss but I do that it features Jack's older brother Charles finding love, so it gets to be included!
The Jack of An Improper Aristocrat and the Jack here are two different fellows. At least, Jack shows two (or three) different sides of himself throughout the course of the novel and really I'm not certain which side I preferred. There's the charming, enthusiastic Jack--who was so excited to show off his knowledge of history and ancient civilizations. Aloof, distant Jack--afraid to become too close to people because affection hurts and only leads to pain. Then there's the Jack that is both when he's with Lily. She undoes him, in so many ways, and he doesn't know whether he hates it or if its a good thing.
Lily is almost as complex. A childhood of innocent pranks and adventures didn't prepare her for the staid, strict existence of adulthood after her father died. Used to having a parent who adored her unconditionally, she was at a loss as to regain that support in her reserved and disproving mother. Her small rebellions--reading frivolous novels, enjoying the sun on her face--spoke a lot of how much she wanted to keep her mother happy. The end I think rushed their reconciliation (not that they fought, exactly, but circumstances changed for them both) and I was hoping to see if her mother's views changed. Marlowe hints at it, in the epilogue, but I would have liked a scene for it.
Together they bait each other incessantly. Lily teases and taunts him to come out of his shell and Jack plays devil's advocate a few times to manipulate the situation in his favor. Or what he hopes will be in his favor. Even though most of the novel is spent in Jack trying to determine whether Lily will help him find Matthew Beecham (his tie to Batiste), Jack forgets this often because Lily does something. Laughs, or smiles or nibbles on her lower lip, he often has to remind himself of the end goal.
I do think that Lily was a little too overdone in her anger towards Jack, when she finds out. He makes a very good point that she was being hypocritical. Jack...he finally decides on a path, a path that leads to him and Lily being happy, and flip flops. I was ready to smack him with a frying pan for it.
Its a Happily Ever After ending however--for all concerned and ties up many of the loose ends from the previous book(s). I certainly was happy by the end of it!