I'm giving this four stars because of how much I like the idea
of this book, how all the parts of it are things that I adore and have sought so much in other books like this. I just wish I'd, I don't know, enjoyed the book more? It was three stars' worth of enjoyment, not four. For as much as I really like
the heroine, I wasn't particularly engaged by her.
I mean, so much is right
. This is a slight AU of Regency England (the king goes mad a bit earlier, the queen is made regent, etc etc fallout etc etc), and it's about a woman of gentle birth who runs away with a swordmaster, lives In Sin with him for many years, and when he dies, she returns to live with her equally fallen aunt, who is a classy madame. Our Heroine, though, establishes herself instead as, well. A consulting detective. Private eye. What have you.
And, oh, there is detecting and politics and lots and lots of thoughts and feelings about women in this society (I don't think there's a single Respectable Woman onscreen for the entire book, a remarkable change), and nothing ever feels guaranteed, and so many of the practical little details that are often skimmed over in novels like this are taken care of, not necessarily made a big deal of, but there
. And all the little things that will often make me pause or feel uncomfortable or have to be brushed aside to enjoy the fluffy mystery aren't
here, and the mystery is pleasingly involved, and the heroine does not twist herself around and suddenly become someone else just for the sake of romance, and there are so many things I can point to and go, "yes! that thing! I love that thing!"
And it's just. I'm left cold, a little bit. There's very little levity here, and I'm beginning to realize how very much I value laughing, or at least snickering a little bit, or being amused
at some point during the course of a story. There are a couple of lighter characters, but their lightness doesn't seem to touch the heart of the story, especially when one of them ends up dead. I just. For as much as this book gave me, I wanted more
Still, I'm more than willing to pick up the next one. What it did give me was very, very good. Just a little dour.