I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Christopher Argent is a name that is only whispered. He is London's underworld premier assassin and born in Newgate, he has no mercy in his soul. It is when he has his hands around Millie LeCour's neck that the first crack of emotion starts to reveal the man underneath the darkness that has encased him all his life. Born in Whitechaple, Millie has become an actress only wanting her name to be shouted about and feel important. When her bestfriend is murdered, she takes on the responsibility of the friend's now motherless son. This seemingly innocuous act will however, put her into the sights of London's most dangerous men and hopefully, into the heart of the deadliest.
There was no denying that he was beautiful. Beautiful in that way that a lightning storm was beautiful, or a tidal wave. Awe-inspiring and utterly dangerous.
Second in the Victorian Rebels series, Byrne takes us on another journey into the lives of London's more on the fringe of society citizens. Introduced in the first book, we get Argent's full story here and what a beginning it was. Argent's mother was imprisoned for various charges and laws being what they were then, Argent ends up being born and growing up in Newgate. The prologue was powerful with its look into the events that shaped and molded Argent, it's dark but there is also such a prevalent thread of sheer human survival that you'll grit your teeth with anger and hopefulness. As with the first book, I was impressed with how well the author could write the scenery in such a way that I could easily visualize everything. Whether it was Newgate, the fighting pits, or the bath house, her descriptions took me there; her ability and talent to do this is one of my favorite aspects of her writing and my favorite part of this story.
"You make me…want."
Argent was the dominant force and at times this felt more like his story rather than Millie and his. His story and demeanor reminded me a lot of the character Bane from Batman. The whole "You think darkness is your ally. You merely adopted the dark. I was born into. I didn't see the light until I was a man." Argent had going on, is how I drew the similarities (or I'm just obsessed with Bane). Millie becomes his light with how she brings out feelings in him. I wouldn't call it insta-lust or insta-love but insta-attraction, it felt more real without the usual eye-rolling verbiage or actions typically associated with the first two. Millie was a good character but the heroine keeping secrets for more suspense tripped her up at times. As with the couple from the first two books, I liked the humor (a bit more stark and sparse in this one) and lightness that shone through from our couple's interactions. It adds a layer to their relationship and helps to make them feel more real.
What I missed in this book that I loved from the first, was secondary characters. Jakob, Millie's son, was the most prominent and had great scenes with Argent but I missed a fuller cast. The hero and heroine from book one make a solid appearance, with Argent's friendship with Dorian adding a great layer to them both but the main villain and the lesser villains weren't quite rounded out or maybe I felt their motives and revealing were a bit rushed towards the end; the pace of the story was uneven. The middle of the story became a bit self-indulgent with Argent's misery and not being able to love; it became repetitive and slowed everything way down. The ending also became too cliché with the easy out of Millie being in danger and Argent realizing he now wants to act on his feelings.
I liked this story with its walled off hero learning not only to love but how and its bold and brash heroine but it seemed to get lost in its own emotional turmoil. There are a couple heroes hinted at who seem to be waiting in the wings and I'm a fan of Byrne's writing style, so I'm definitely staying with the series and hoping for a return of the magic that featured in the first book.