SETTING: Historical - Victorian Era
TYPE: Straight Romance
SERIES: I believe the books are connected in some way but they can be read as standalone. Here's what Ms. Joyce commented on DearAuthor:
REASON FOR READING: Loved VEIL & MUSIC. Didn't care too much for the hero in WHISPERS and I didn't finish it.
As a quick note, you will NEVER have to read my books in any particular order, but the chronological order is actually this:
SHADOWS (just turned in)
JEWELS (? writing right now)
Book #7 (in planning)
Book #8 (in planning)
SUMMARY: [from the publisher]
Desperate to escape the underworld's treacherous grasp, Maggie of King Street finds a patron in Charles Crossham, Lord Edgington, who must transform a street girl into a lady to win a high stakes wager. Charles has never met anyone like the fierce and ardent Maggie, and Maggie's defenses are useless against the seduction of the jaded lord. Their association quickly ignites into a consuming obsession. But both passion and the bet are threatened by a ruthless villain from Maggie's dark past, who has plans for her that imperil everything she's ever cared for-and her very life.THOUGHTS / OPINION:
Everyone knows the charming story of Pygmalion where Henry Higgins transforms the poor flower girl into a lady. VOTN has the same theme but with a dark, gloomy atmosphere. The reader get a sense of gothic undertones when LJ paints a vivid picture of Dickensian London. Instead of the usual privileged and wealthy lords and ladies and their beautiful mansions and gardens that are typically portrayed in historical romances set in London, we see the seedier side of the city with the crime, filth and abject poverty.
Maggie of King Street, lives in a broken down flat and struggles to protect her adopted family of eight, who she calls her "chavies" or children. Maggie is a complicated and compelling character and extremely well written. Charles Crossham, on the other hand, was much more difficult to like. When he approaches Maggie with his proposal to turn her into a lady, provide her a place to live and an income with which she can support her family, she accepts knowing she has no choice.
Charles takes advantage of her desperation and their first sexual encounter really disgusted me. (I sound like a prude here but really I like sex early in books, or anytime actually ;). This incident just felt off.) Maggie did what she thought was expected of her and Charles was acting like the typical Victorian 'gentleman' of the times. But I expected more honor from my heroes and taking advantage of this heroine like this felt wrong. He was such a shallow person to me at this point in the book. But he had his upbringing to contend with and spoiled wealthy hedonistic young men don't make the best heroes. LJ was able to turn around his character into something commendable and I liked him at the end.
The mystery/suspense part of the story dealt with an incident in Maggie's past and was riveting. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and I wasn't quite convinced of their HEA. When the heroine is so far beneath the hero in social standing, it's hard to believe that these kinds of marriages will work out. But I was willing to believe it for Maggie's sake.