"How romantic," she drawled in a bored, social voice that set his teeth on edge, "to think that love has anything to do with marriage."
Our heroine, Hero (I'll pause to let you work that one out), is another woman of her time, thinking marriages are for enhancing your family and sex is for men and their mistresses. Our hero, Heroine, just kidding, Griffin, has somewhat erroneously bore the ne'er-do-well family title. He's the second born but manages the family finances and set them up in the illegal gin business. Hero is engaged to Griffin's brother Thomas who thinks Griffin seduced his first wife, Hero's brother Wakefield is on a crusade to destroy all gin makers, Griffin is fighting off a rival gin maker, Thomas is fighting his love for his mistress, Hero's little sister Phoebe is going blind, and oh, with all that, Griffin and Hero are falling into sex, err, love, I mean love.
But he knew. Oh, yes, he knew---he was in over his head and sinking fast.
This story felt a little bit like a throwback to the old 80 and 90's, not quite full bodice ripper but there were melodramatics happening alongside numerous boot knocking scenes. I feel a little traitorous but the many sex scenes detracted from the story for me instead of making me feel the closeness of Griffin and Hero. I'm going to put some of the blame on my personal distaste for how Hero was engaged to Griffin's brother and still proclaiming to marry him until very late in the story; both Griffin and Hero's actions felt pretty icky to me. The author worked hard to make Thomas, if not villainous, pretty unlikable until the very end where she tried to redeem him through a love story, didn't work for me.
There was something else here as well. It was a terrible sorrow, a welling joy, as if all the emotion she'd ever held in check or pushed away was suddenly rising to the surface. She couldn't control her face, couldn't control her body. She was coming apart, and she'd never be able to pin herself back together again.
With the brother between them, I just had a hard time really warming up to Hero and Griffin as a couple; separately I thought they were good characters. The sex scenes became over played and I started to skim them a tiny bit, there were so many, but again my dislike could come from dang Thomas not being shoved out earlier. The gin story plot felt more like an introduction for Hero's brother Wakefield, his aggressive stance against it. The danger Griffin faced because of it (the villain wasn't given near enough pages to feel flushed out) and how it ended felt glossed over.
The surrounding world and characters felt full and real and I really liking Hoyt's London. I've already read Phoebe's story, so seeing glimpses of her here broke my heart but knowing what's in story helped to heal it. The secondary Silence story makes an appearance again and I can't wait to read about her and Charming Mickey.