A bookish young woman and a degenerate ex-soldier team up to foil an assassination plot in Victorian England, falling in love in the process.
When Mary Channing answers a summons to keep her pregnant sister company in London, she expects to continue her usual quiet life of reading and writing in her journal. But her first social event ends in disaster when Geoffrey "West" Westmore corners her in a library and steals a kiss. West is recovering from psychological wounds he suffered in the Crimean War and is apt to think of women as delicious distractions from his own pain, not as people in their own rights. When the pair hides behind a curtain to avoid discovery, they overhear the sketchy outlines of an assassination plot. The would-be assassins soon depart, but another group enters, and this time they find a tousled Mary alone with one of London’s most notorious womanizers. What follows is a rollicking tale as West tries to convince Mary to become Mrs. Westmore and Mary tries to convince West that he needs her help investigating the assassination plot. But West still thinks Mary, and all women, is his to enjoy and protect and is unwilling to treat Mary as an equal. Both West and Mary are rather bumbling in their sleuthing skills, overlooking obvious clues, being impulsive and indiscreet. Mary is intelligent but naïve. West is blinded by his lack of faith in Mary’s abilities and by his own trauma. Still, McQuiston’s (The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior, 2015, etc.) third Seduction Diaries novel is to be commended for its complex and unusual plot and for featuring characters the reader comes to care for.
A surprising, readable story about healing, forgiveness, and trust.