The London Jewel Thieves series from Shehanne Moore features a collection of some of the feistiest and outrageous Regency women you are ever likely to encounter and Splendor is one of them. Lady Splendor to give her the title she adopted – along with her name. She is out to win ten thousand pounds in a chess tournament. The only problem is, only men are allowed to compete in it. So, what is she going to do? Obvious. She will disguise herself as a man and take on chess champion, Kendall Winterborne, the Earl of Stillmore – a man she despises.
Needless to say, it all goes horribly wrong and, from then on, Splendor and her friend – the consumptive Topaz – embark on a series of increasingly risky plots to get her money and be able to live in the style to which they want to be accustomed. In the background, a supporting cast of characters provide help, hindrance and incompetent bungling, while the bad tempered Earl of Stillmore tries not to develop feelings for the woman who torments his every waking hour – and some of his sleeping ones too.
Shehanne Moore writes historical fiction like no other. Her heroines are more likely to punch their way out of difficulties rather than suffer an attack of the vapours. As a reader, you find yourself cheering them on from the sidelines, wincing as they make a decision you know is going to end in disaster and all the while thoroughly enjoying the rollercoaster ride the author takes you on. A worthy companion to ‘Loving Lady Lazuli’, this book can also be read as a standalone and, even if historical fiction isn’t usually your preferred genre, give this one a go. It’s a great fun adventure that will have you smiling.