Kate Moore's latest novel suffers from a heroine who just cannot put her faith in the hero. Her inability to trust both her instincts and the hero stole some of the magic from their romance.
Helen is saved from certain ruin from a brothel auction. She is drugged and senseless when hero Will Jones rescues her; he is undercover disguised as a foppish Continental on another mission entirely. He takes the groggy Helen to his home and Helen is less than happy that she is out of the brothel. Let me just say, right off that Helen's attitude was less than appealing toward the hero, she is angry with him for interfering and seemingly ungrateful that he has saved her from certain ravishment.
Helen has a ton of secrets, she keeps her identity under wraps and she is on a quest to find incriminating letters written by her mother. She believes they are housed in the brothel by a nefarious man and she will do almost anything to retrieve them. Her mother is unaware of Helen's mission and quite frankly I don't know if her mother would have dissuaded her if she had known. Helen has a strange family; her father is an unforgiving, harsh clergyman totally unaware of his wife's letters. Helen has plans to go back to the brothel even though she is hopelessly naïve and so far out of her depth with these London thugs that it is a miracle she has not been seriously injured already.
Will is an honorable man and a former Runner. He is the son of a famous courtesan and he is on the search for his lost brother of three years and he is fairly certain his brother is living in the slums of London hunted by a powerful man. Clues have led him to the brothel and the same man holding Helen's letters is the same man Will believes can lead him to his lost sibling. He feels a certain obligation to Helen and they form a reluctant partnership mainly so he can protect her.
Helen speaks in metaphors to Will, as if she is Helen of Troy, I guess he is her Paris and this got to be a bit old because she uses her Helen of Troy conversations to avoid real intimacy with Will. Helen is so focused on retrieving her mother's letters that she simply cannot see her obsession is leading her and others down a dangerous path. She embarks on half baked plans which she escapes either by sheer luck or Will coming to her rescue. She never really believes in his innate goodness as she never and I mean never shares some very important information with him like her family name. It's amazing that they fell in love as she adopts a persona that is not her own, although she is admittedly a very good mimic.
This novel, although high in action, just felt a little flat to me. I never really cared about the couple's romance because I was not invested in them emotionally. Their individual quests were intriguing but their romantic journey was not.