London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours – for a price. Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London-secrets. But leading a double life isn’t easy.
By day, Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London’s slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General, who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and the most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.
Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is – not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
This probably won’t be a very long review, simply because I feel like I don’t really have a lot to say about this book. I was instantly sold when I read the summary. I mean, a female blackmailer leading a double life in 1700s London? Come on, I had to read this! Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t necessarily anything bad about this book, but it wasn’t all it could have been.
For starters, I felt like I didn’t really get to know the characters all that well, except maybe for Arista/Lady A. Hers was a character I quite liked, particularly when she demonstrated her inner conflict in being a criminal. She is tough and hardened from all her years on the streets, but still longs for a different life, and that came through beautifully in the writing. Unfortunately, even though I liked her, I found it incredibly hard to actually bring myself to care for her much. I didn’t feel all that invested in what happened to her, and that was a real shame. As for all the other characters, I felt like I really didn’t get to know them at all. They were pretty one-dimensional, and some of them, like Arista’s protector Nic, really only seemed to show up to move the plot along. And I was completely not sold on the romance. Yes, Grae is a really sweet and nice character, but I just couldn’t feel it. It came across too much as an insta-love for me to fully appreciate it, and it did nothing to change my mind as the story progressed.
The whole book really felt quite slow, as not that much actually did happen. I was expecting a whole lot of action, intrigue and secrets, and for the most part got… masquerade balls. Now, there is nothing wrong with a good masquerade ball scene (and I actually quite like them), but that was essentially all Lady A did for most of the book: go to masquerade balls. It may just be me, but that seems a little weak for “the most notorious blackmailer” in London. Towards the end, things seemed to pick up a little, with more stuff happening and a couple of plot twists that made things slightly more interesting (even though they were fairly predictable).
As I said, this wasn’t necessarily a bad read, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I had expected it to be. Luckily, the ending wrapped things up nicely, because I’m just not sure I will read the sequel.