A clever madam finds herself defending Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s government from international intrigue.
India Black is the proprietress of Lotus House, an upscale London brothel serving the finest of England’s civil servants and military men. When one such upstanding gentleman, known as Bowser, keels over dead in the midst of a particularly embarrassing session, India aims to leave his body for discovery far from her house with the help of Vincent, a filthy street urchin. They’re stopped in their tracks by a dark, handsome stranger, Bowser’s colleague at the War Office, who’s happy to help remove the corpse to a slightly less disreputable setting so long as they turn over a portfolio of government documents Bowser had on him. But Bowser’s case has gone missing, along with his tart. This development bodes ill for England—so ill that India is grabbed off the street and brought to Prime Minister Disraeli’s office to hatch a plan to retrieve the case from the Russian embassy. With the help of Vincent, a fellow lady of the evening, and the handsome gentleman from the War Office, India dodges Cossacks and a meddlesome vicar, proving herself resourceful, stubborn and amusingly cynical, even as she risks death for the gratitude of her country, plus a new gown and furs.
With a heroine reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel's Legacy series, this saucy debut is a satisfying amusement, with the happy promise of more to come.