This one didn't hit the spot as strongly as the first three in this series did for me. It's a solid four for the second half, though.
I'm not sure how to explain why I had some problems with it. First and foremost, I'm certain is that I'm under a lot of stress right now with things outside the books I'm reading -- how dare real life intrude! -- so that might have been too big of a distraction for a book that focuses on a mystery with some twists.
James Swindler was brought into Feagans group of lads when he was found and befriended by Luke and Jack in the crowd gathered for James's father's hanging. The circumstances surrounding this event are heartbreaking (as are most of the past events of Feagan's kids) and the reader doesn't forget them as the story moves forward.
I can't really say much about the heroine although she's got some major issues of her own. Her sister committed suicide because of appalling abuse at the hands of a dastardly Marquess and it's revenge time in London for Eleanor, who starts out focused but evolves into a very confused girl. Initially bent on seducing James for use in her plot, she quickly falls in love with him and things get even more mixed-up.
Because of the twists and turns it's easy to give spoilers so I won't go into plot points any further except to say that the surprises had the effect of making the first half almost uninteresting. Because it was obvious there was so much being withheld from me, the reader, I found it hard to commit to the story until those details were revealed. And that didn't happen until about the halfway point. Then the story picks up nicely and I ended up liking it quite a bit.
As always, Heath's epilogue is an amazing end to the book. Even if I hadn't ended up liking the book itself, I might have walked away thinking I had based on her great skill with epilogues.
One other thing -- I skimmed ever sex scene. I also did that in Dodger's book (Between the Devil and Desire) but not the other two. Not that everything hinges on the effectiveness of sex scenes, but the two books that lost my interest in those parts are also the two books that got four rather than five stars. I think it might be a chemistry thing. While I was completely convinced and committed to the romance between Luke and Catherine and Sterling and Frannie, I think I might have harbored a tiny bit of doubt about the others. Hmm. Now I'll be thinking about sex scenes all day.
I'm assuming there is a fifth book either out or in the works for William Graves. I'm anxious to read to his story if we're lucky enough to see it. An orphan grave robber turned physician to the queen. Oh yeah.
I'm so glad I started this series and discovered Heath as an author. I'm becoming a mega-fan here. Looking forward to another scoundrel as well as her backlist.