Queen Victoria’s London is a teeming metropolis of pageantry, forbidden desire, and danger—especially in the East End, a hotbed of vice, witchcraft, and murder. What widow Lady Maggie Graham does there more than greases the rumor mill. When she agrees to wed the Viscount Langdon, there are those who would act upon their suspicions . . .
Experience has taught Lord Jamie well. He has seen his fair share of women behave inappropriately—enjoying risqué amusements in secret theatres, running about disguised in the seediest parts of the city—and then they call you vile names for coming to their rescue. And no woman is more shameless, more cunning, more intoxicating than Lady Maggie . . .
I was interested in this one because I love the late-Victorian London setting. It worked for me in capturing the atmosphere, but in the end, I struggled.
When We Touch begins with a heroine being forced into a marriage with an elderly (SERIOUSLY elderly) aristocrat because her brother has lost the family fortune. However, on the same day she meets her fiancé, she meets his great-nephew, who she is immediately attracted to.
My problem was that I didn’t like anybody involved! The heroine was Too Stupid To Live a few too many times, and our hero kept blaming his attraction to her on witchcraft, and so constantly thought the worst of her. The other main female character was selfish and bordering on evil. And in order to excuse the – erm – sexy behaviour of the hero and heroine, the old man is turned into a creep at the last moment.
The heroine stumbled into dangerous situation after dangerous situation with no real justification. And – rather bizarrely – the hero kept turning up to get her out of there. She was in the East End giving a talk; the hero was there. She went to a séance; the hero was there right when it turned dangerous and people started getting shot.
She ran into an old friend the day before her wedding (the hero was there then, too), and the friend took her to a sex club on some sort of Victorian hens’ night – only for the hero to rescue her from rape there.
The research interests me because this might be my favourite time period, and mostly it was very thorough, but it often felt like the author was determined to drop all of the information she gathered into the book. Every secondary character is a real person from Victorian England; it’s a who’s who of nineteenth-century celebrities, including a Jack the Ripper suspect!
The other issue I had: having your characters speak “posh” doesn’t make the language British! A full stop ends a sentence! Twentieth century American slang should not be there, and yet it was everywhere, including medical terms.
And – weirdly – Covent Garden, one of London’s most famous places, was called “Covent Gardens” in the first half of the book, and then it morphed into “Coventry Gardens”!
I tried very, very hard to like this book, but I was alternately confused and annoyed by the selfish characters. By the time I reached the epilogue and it strangely switched from third to first person narration, I realised I could not lie to myself. This book was not for me.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.