Part of the reason I read so much, and so often is the ability of a good story to take me away into a world and situations that are new and different: unknown to me but presented by the author to show the common ties from their created world and life and my more realistic if occasionally mundane existence. Historical romances are made even better as they often include real world events, many just a footnote in history, and bring them to the reader’s attention.
In The Love List, Marlowe has used an infamous idea: Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies: an annually printed pocketbook that provided the specifications of 100+ prostitutes that were working the Covent Garden area. Last published some 20 years earlier in 1795, the existence of the list was an infamous and titillating secret, remembered in reality by few, yet spoken of with hushed whispers. The attempts to regenerate the list with one blockbuster addition will combine blackmail, murder, revenge, and manipulation in a neatly plotted mystery and dreams of romance for the characters within this story.
Marlowe manages to bring together several players in this game, from all levels of society: Dukes to pickpockets and prostitutes: and while the mastermind of the reappearance of the Love List is never really in doubt, the layers of deception and manipulation as lives and secrets are threatened with the release of the pamphlet start to add up. What is ultimately a story of revenge and anger against a lover lost; there are enough casualties and innuendo thrown to put several situations, if not people’s reputations or lives in jeopardy. Much more than the original list of prostitutes: the revelations delve into the political and diplomatic arenas, threatening more than just society’s good name.
Throughout the story, Marlowe lets us see the story unfold from perspectives of Brynne and Aldmere. Brynne was a refreshing delight: thoughtful and intelligent, she also managed to put her wishes to see and make changes into action. Incredibly determined with a backbone of steel, it is obvious that she sees much and cares deeply for her causes, even as she has the occasional flight of romantic fancy. Aldmere, for his part, is holding on to lots of guilt from his childhood, and takes his position as Duke and an MP as chores to be survived, with little room for enjoyment. He doesn’t want to care for, appreciate or even find merit in any of Brynne’s beliefs or ideas, but there is a spark of interest for her that he is trying to bury, believing that caring or involving oneself with another’s life will only bring pain.
Brynne needs to learn that her life’s goals and intentions to help others does not need to be in lieu of love and her own personal happiness, it just will take some dedication and finding the right man. Aldmere has to realize, and Btynne is quick to tell him, that he was not responsible for the loss of those he loved, and that sometimes interference in events is JUST what is needed. He needs to gain some idealism back, while Brynne’s needed tempering. And yes, Aldmere and Brynne do come to share a passion for one another that weaves through the story as we uncover the several layers of people involved in the plot, and just how wide-spread the ramifications would be should the book be produced.
With several moments of danger, characters that are wholly real and often surprising, this tale winds from the ballrooms of society’s top echelon through the slums and back alleys of London this is a book that was engaging, intriguing, exciting and ever so difficult to put down.
Title: The Love List
Author: Deb Marlowe
Genre: Contemporary Mystery, Historical Romance
Published by: Aspendawn Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 14 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository
The Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies, that wickedly witty annual register of the city's lightskirts, was once a grand London tradition. Now, as all of Europe is celebrating the end of the long wars, the scheming Lord Marstoke has revived it--and transformed it into a weapon to be used against his runaway fiancé and the old enemy who helped her escape.
A List no respectable lady wishes to be on . . .
Miss Brynne Wilmott escaped the monstrous Marstoke once, with the inadvertent aide of Nathan Russell, the Duke of Aldmere, and the incredible generosity of Hestia Wright, the former courtesan pledged to help any woman in trouble. But now Marstoke's Love List is threatening her new future--and making her into a weapon forged to destroy her friend.
The request a certain Duke has no wish to hear . . .
The Duke of Aldmere doesn't believe in meddling. Fate has proven that interfering in personal matters only leads to bigger troubles and personal relationships come at a high price--too often paid by someone he cares for. He has no wish to involve himself in Brynne Wilmott's affairs, despite her spirited beauty and damned tempting mouth. But she's discovered that his brother is mixed up in this business as well, and reluctantly, they agree to work together. Their search leads them through some of London's most dangerous haunts and it quickly becomes clear that Marstoke's plans are more twisted and treasonous than anyone has suspected. Yet the danger and intrigue are as nothing compared to the effect that Nathan and Brynne have on each other . . .
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.