The second in a series which started with "the tiger's mistress". Maxwell, Viscount Davenport is reunited with independant spice trader Olivia Marquand in a hunt for the Viscount's missing brother and a host of small stolen items, including it becomes clear, several pretty,but powerless, young women. Olivia's connections in the shadier sides of commerce force Max to come to her for help as he is quite out of his depth. Olivia and Max then spend the first third of the book in uneasy alliace feeling that the other doesn't like them, which becomes a little tedious, they also show remarkably little brain in solving the puzzle of the missing brother and connecting this to the missing women and stolen items. If it hadn't been for the much more amusing characters of Mr Winslow (Olivia's second in command at the shipping company) and the darkly brooding Earl of Killingworth aka the Irish Wolfhound (undoubtably the hero of the next book)who both seemed to be able to dredge up, out of the blue,or have dragged out of them a sliver of just the right information at the right time.
As you can probably tell I wasn't desporatly impressed, though some of the conversation was spirited, witty and amusing and many of the descriptive passages were atmospheric and painted clear impressions, the acctual character development and plot seemed to me laboured and slow. I read Celeste Bradley's lastest with great pleasure and speed (unputdownable) in a tenth of the time and in the middle of trying to finish this mildly pleasant diversion.