New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston continues her enchanting Seduction Diaries series as a bookish spinster and an unrepentant rogue unite to unmask a traitor.
Every girl dreams of a hero . . .
No one loves books more than Miss Mary Channing. Perhaps that’s why she’s reached the ripe old age of six-and-twenty without ever being kissed. Her future may be as bland as milk toast, but Mary is content to simply dream about the heroes and adventures she reads about in her books. That way she won’t end up with a villain instead.
But sometimes only a scoundrel will do.
When she unexpectedly finds herself in the arms of Geoffrey Westmore, London’s most notorious scoundrel, it feels a bit like a plot from one of her favorite novels. Suddenly, Mary understands why even the smartest heroines can fall prey to a handsome face. And Westmore is more handsome than most. But far worse than the damage to her reputation, the moment’s indiscretion uncovers an assassination plot that reaches to the highest levels of society and threatens the course of the entire country.
When a tight-laced miss and a scoundrel of epic proportions put their minds together, nothing can stand in their way. But unless they put their hearts together as well, a happy ending is anything but assured.
Ruination takes a back seat to assassination in McQuiston's Victorian-era romantic thriller, the third in the Seduction Diaries series (after The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior). Mary Channing is rather unexpectedly engaging in her first kiss, with the kind assistance of future viscount Geoffrey "West" Westmore, when they overhear bits and pieces of an assassination plot taking place in London. Unfortunately, West is known as a prankster, so no one believes their story. West never planned to marry. He has nightmares of his time in war, and heavy drinking and promiscuity are his ways of coping; this is hardly the behavior of a proper husband. Mary knows he doesn't love her. However, they need a way to secretly investigate and stop the impending assassination, and they can only work as a team if they marry to satisfy the society gossips. Mary's intelligence and strength and West's caring and attentiveness transform their forced marriage into a welcome one. The characters and their relationship develop alongside the investigation, not because of it. The story is equal parts mystery and romance, and just when readers begin to feel cheated, the twists and turns navigate to a stunning ending.
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A bit more of an escapist read, McQuiston manages to draw you in
Oh how I love a heroine that is reserved and more than a little skeptical about the real world, preferring her books and stories to actually getting out in the world. And early in Queen Victoria’s reign, she’s far more easily dismissed than her more outgoing, stylish and younger counterparts. But Mary isn’t just timid and retiring, she’s got a huge heart, plenty of imagination and a real desire to ‘adventure’.
Geoffrey, oh he could be so difficult to like, but there is an underlying little boy lost to his personality, despite the fact he and Mary are such opposites. His own nature and willingness to go to great lengths for a joke have most in his life thinking he’s unreliable and incapable of responsibility, beyond those scrapes and jokes he prefers.
So, after one of the most unique and clever meetings I’ve read in a while, Geoffrey is convinced that Mary is simply a maid. Their next encounter, when she escapes from the crowds and noise at a ball, to hide in the library, Geoffrey follows her, intent on seduction. But, together they overhear a plot that could mean assassination, when they are discovered by others, MANY others, and with her reputation ready to immolate, Geoffrey proposes. Mary declines. BUT –
These two are adorable together. No one takes them seriously with Mary’s tendency to wool-gather and imagine and Geoffrey’s history of joking and lack of focus. They balance one another beautifully: the plot slowly reveals their own issues, the mystery of the plot they overheard, and their growing connection. A bit more of an escapist read, McQuiston manages to draw you into the character’s lives and worries, cheer them on and hope that while they follow the mystery’s clues they’ll also find a way to be together. Easily read without knowing the earlier books in the series, this is a wonderful introduction to McQuiston’s writing, sure to whet your appetite for more.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.