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.
Lady Elizabeth Wilde is the eldest of three girls and the daughter of duke, so when she begins to suspect that someone may be poisoning her father; it's up to her to take action. Hiring a Bow Street Runner to investigate sounds like the best idea but when she meets Dysart, her life really starts to take a different turn. Dysart knows all about polite society and finds the rookeries to be more pleasant and honest but when the starchy Lady comes asking for help, he takes the case. A carriage ride, shared lingering glances, and a connection that can't be denied start to make this a case Dysart won't soon forget. With two people society deems unacceptable to even share the same table, this duke's daughter and runner are beginning to want to share more than just confidences.
She is above you.
The first in a new series, To Lure a Proper Lady, was a fantastic start and introduction to the Wilde family. Our heroine, the eldest daughter Lady Elizabeth, is used to taking charge and being responsible. It seems her father has lingered in his bedchamber for years, suffering mostly from hypochondria. While Lady Elizabeth, Lizzie to her family, has been the head of the family for all intents and purposes, her character wonderfully stays away from the strong-willed (pig-headed) and brash (bratty) heroine traits that often accompany heroines authors want to portray as intelligent and leaders. Lizzie has the confidence, subtlety, and limitations (limited world view) of a woman in her position, a duke's daughter. These nuances, Lizzie can put together a house party on short notice and run a hugely staffed home like a general but has no understanding of the finances, the author wrote into the character helped give a feeling for the time period and Lizzie as an individual.
She'd learned about the man before her, but she still didn't know him.
Dysart (yes, I completely agree, the name is a struggle) starts off as a chameleon to us the readers as he adopts many personas to mask his true identity; it's clear immediately that he does this to try and keep a wedge between him and Lizzie. Along with Lizzie, we learn his true self as the story moves on. Decisions he made in his past as a young man are revealed to be quite noble if a bit overly aboveboard. As an investigator, I have to say, he's a bit wanting but as a hero, prepare to get in line. He's the bad boy from the other side of the tracks that is more hotly honorable than bad and maybe not so off limits. His backstory is a bit muddled but the way he treats and interacts with Lizzie in the present is why we're all here anyway.
To hell with the fact that she was a lady and he was hardly a gentleman.
The story thread that keeps our couple together is Lizzie hiring Dysart to help figure out if her father is being poisoned and if so, by whom? As I mentioned, Dysart doesn't do a lot to impress in this capacity. He makes a lot of lists and hems and haws over who could be guilty but I'm not sure any investigative action was taken, the answers kind of fall into his lap. What was this story's strong point and worth the price of admission was Lizzie and Dysart's chemistry. When they first meet, there is an instant spark but their coming together is gradually moved along in some pretty perfect steamy scenes (the papers flying, desk clearing scene is worth any price tag ;). For most of the book, I thought Dysart overshadowed Lizzie but towards the end, our heroine stepped up a lot.
Secondary characters did an adequate job of helping to round out the story. Lizzie's middle sister Caro weaved in and out and although I have a decent idea on who her character is, she wasn't fully flushed out. The youngest sister, Philippa, popped in for a few lines but I would have liked to have seen more of her. In fact, scenes of the sisters interacting would have added a lot to the story and characters, I missed their familial feel. Their father, crazy aunt, Pendleton (perceived enemy of Dysart), and Snowley the duke's heir all add to the story but weren't fully drawn out characters. The villain was believable but that whole storyline felt more to the peripheral with lightly sketched details.
As I mentioned the star of the show really is Dysart and Lizzie's relationship and their steamy hot scenes. Lizzie's character did feel a little uneven at times when her boldness/eagerness lightly emerged into the intimate scenes but she was never overly modern and I found myself not caring if her father was dying or not, as I wanted more scenes of Dysart and Lizzie trying to fight their attraction. This was wonderfully sweetly hot and a great start to a series that has me highly anticipating the next one.