Set in England during the reign of George I, this book follows the turbulent fortunes of Gideon St. Mars. Gideon is a handsome and rich aristocrat who hopes to marry Isabella Mayfield, the most sought-after beauty in London. His father, however, disapproves of the match, so Gideon visits him in hopes of persuading him to change his mind. Unfortunately, they have a violent quarrel, which becomes a damning piece of evidence against Gideon when his father is murdered later that day. Although Gideon is innocent, his so-called friends in London society immediately begin to suspect and shun him, including Isabella. Only Isabella’s companion, Hester Kean, believes in Gideon’s innocence; with her help, Gideon must hide from the law until he can bring his father’s real murderer to justice.
This is one of those books whose plot seems custom-made for me: a murder mystery, a wrongly accused hero, an interesting period setting, and a slowly developing romance. So perhaps it’s needless to say that I really enjoyed it! The early 18th century is a period I don’t know much about, but it seems fascinating and ripe for dramatic conflict. George I, the first Hanoverian monarch, is on the throne of England, but there are plenty of dissenters who would like to restore the Stuart line to power. This larger conflict is woven into Gideon’s story, and I’m interested to see how events will unfold in future installments of the series. The only jarring aspect of this book, for me, was that all the women were addressed as “Mrs.” regardless of their marital status. An author’s note explains that this was apparently the custom at that time, but it definitely confused me at first! Otherwise, though, I liked this book a lot and will definitely seek out the sequels.