Cute little take-off on the Pygmalion theme.
Gideon is a well respected gentleman barrister in London who has painstakingly repaired his depleted family fortunes. However he still isn't rich (he quite poor actually) and he's a bit of a do-gooder when it comes to his cases (he's pretty much pro-bono). But he keeps up excellent appearances and is the heir of a fantastic estate once his perennially ill uncle dies. But all will be fixed if he can just marry the fantastically, wonderful Lady Constance Clary. She's is the wealthy daughter of a Marquis and she is the final element of the plan for his life he calls The Master Plan. Except he has a rival for Constance's hand.
Enter Lily Masters, thief. Gideon has come to the conclusion that the one thing necessary to tip Constance to his side is that she needs a rival as well. Gideon saves Lily from a prison or possible deportment after she is caught picking a man's pocket. Quickly realizing that Lily is a much more than meets the eyes, Gideon brokers a deal with her. He will turn her into a lady capable to navigating the ton
, and creating seething jealousy in the heart of the Fabulous Constance Lily's debt to him will be paid. Lily is smart, capable of telling the most outrageous (yet believable stories) and she's beautiful. so they embark on their scheme.
Lately I have pretty much given up on Historical Romances except for a handful of favorite authors. They just haven't been working for me as a whole. But JAL is usually good for an uplifting easy read. This book was absolutely that.
I feel like a broken record when I review a JAL book, but her strength as a writer shines through in each book on the same strong elements. In a romance novel it is critical that the reader feels
the romance. JAl does that in spades with her books. No matter the plot, the romance part of the book is wonderful.
Another big strength is her dialogue. I could "listen" to her characters talk all day. Lily and Gideon spar, insult, one-up each other with finesse. I love the fact that they recognize in each other a kindred soul and will often smile at each other in a silent, acknowledging 'I see what you did there.' I also love all the snotty, mean-yet-sweet exchanges between Lily and the Fantastic Lady Constance. Meow!
And finally her third strength is how she incorporates humor. Humor is hard to write. But it is all over the place in this book, in the dialogue, in the scenes where Gideon and his best friend Lord Kilmartin basically act as finishing school teachers for Lily, even in the snippy notes Gideon sends to Lily each day on her schedule. I always appreciate humor in romance. It gets a short shrift sometimes to angst.
But there is some lovely romance-y angst here too. A nice, total package of a book and reminds why some writers can lure me back to Hist Romance once in awhile.