“Women mind their reputation if they want to marry. I don’t want to marry.”
Amita Murray ~ Unladylike Lessons in Love
As the eldest daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress, Lila Marleigh knows what it’s like to be an outsider from “polite” society. As children, she and her sisters were wrenched from their home and sent to England, never quite accepted by those who claimed to care for them. Now Lila has set herself up as hostess of an exclusive gaming club, charming the ton that flocks to her establishment each night, though it shuns her by day.
One night, Ivor Tristram comes barging through her door, accusing her of being his father’s mistress. Lila defies his expectations at every step and convinces him to navigate London’s rat pits and pleasure gardens with her, in her quest to solve a violent crime.
As they set out together to uncover the truth, an irresistible passion ignites that will shake them to the core. Lila must fight to protect those she loves, yet the biggest threat is to the sanctity of the heart she has guarded so carefully all her life.
What a delightful romp!
There were several stories in this book, with each one providing a tantalising taste of the rest of the series. At its heart, Unladylike Lessons in Love is an attempt to solve a crime to rectify a broken promise from years ago, but at the same time we have themes of class, race and gender as each character struggles to conform to societal expectations.
Lila is my new favourite character – she’s feisty, fearless and passionate. An independent woman in a time where women were still prizes to be won, she knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to speak it. Her bond with Maisie is sweet – albeit initially naïve – and their relationship, as well as Maisie’s story, was a delight. Much as I enjoyed the scenes with Ivor, I was disappointed that such a strong, determined woman could fall so quickly for a man, but I guess when you know you know!
There were also some lovely side characters, including Lila’s household, many of whom were seen as outcasts, but had found a place working for her. There are hints at their backstories and perhaps we shall get to know them more in future books. Parts of it are a little farfetched, but it’s a very enjoyable jaunt around London, from society balls and stately homes to rat pits and the gallows…
Murray strikes a good balance between traditional and modern with her storytelling, making it accessible and very readable. I look forward to the next instalment.
Thanks to the author and Avon Books for my proof copy. Opinions my own.