Imogen Pritchard is a nurse by day and at night she works as a maid and barkeep at the Bare Kitten Gin and Dance Hall in London to take care of her mother and sister, as well as help repay her father’s gambling debt to the owner. She has a special arrangement with him where she doesn’t have to “service” the bar patrons but on one night, he broke that agreement when Collin Talmadge, Duke of Trewyth, shows up with his cadre of soldiers and makes an offer the owner wouldn’t refuse. He’s just lost his beloved family in an accident and is on the eve of a new assignment for the Crown. His one night with “Ginny” as she’s known at Bare Kitten turns out to be more memorable than either of them imagined.
The men of this series are most definitely the epitome of rebels, all physically imposing, fearless and willing to work in the gray areas of the law. Collin gets captured during the campaign he left for following his assignation with Imogen and was presumed dead until he was found and rescued by Liam MacKenzie a year later. He returns a very broken man with dark edges and indirectly was responsible for Imogen losing her job at the hospital after she helps save his life.
I have to admit that I didn’t like Collin (Cole to his friends) for much of this story. He was tortured and sullen, and directed much of his anger towards Imogen who he didn’t recognize as his Ginny. Her circumstances changed, for the better, and he resented her for what he felt were good reasons (you’ll need to read the book for that). Imogen holds her own with him but doesn’t let on that she’s the woman he’s still desperately trying to find as the memory of that one night with her sustained him during his captivity.
There’s a lot going on here as a serial killer is at large, preying on women who are seemingly unconnected but look very similar, including Imogen. That danger was in the background but the strength of the story is the developing relationship between Cole and Imogen. I did weary of the time it took for the secret to be revealed but it was entirely consistent with the story and Cole’s transformation. I had a hard time putting it down and the narrator, Derek Perkins, again delivered a stellar performance. This series isn’t for those looking to revel in the aristocratic and genteel aspects of the Victorian era. It’s honest about that time, particularly how difficult it was for women and those outside of the Royal connections and for me that’s a very good thing. It’s ranking as one of my favorites.
- Release Date: February 7, 2017
- Series: Victorian Rebels #4
- Narrator: Derek Perkins
- Audio Length: 11 hours, 45 minutes
- Publisher: Tantor Audio