This story was my Author of the Month selection for my Yahoo Reading Group. Jo Goodman was a new author for me and I will say she did not disappoint in the least, although I might be weary selecting her again to read. She reminded me alot of Laura Kinsale in the sense that this book was very dark, from the moment it started until we actually turned the last page. Even with a HEA ending, you still felt somber since the book was emotionally draining.
Viscount Sheridan finds himself putting his affairs in order because he plans to retire to the country to regroup, when there is an attempt on his life and death is forestall by a young boy that has taken a grievous wound on his behalf. He is determined to find out who the boy is and delays his trip to the country to investigate the incident. It's at this point that 3 street urchins find themselves at his door demanding that he pay for the medical expenses of 'Miss Rose' since they believe that Sherridon had done the stabbing. Sherry (Sheridan's nickname) is surprised to hear that the 'boy' that stepped between him and death, is in fact a young woman. But his surprise is only heightened when he hears her speak in a upper class manner.
Lily has been in hiding for a while and although she has witnessed great depravity in her life, she still holds true to her principles. This is what took her to interfere when she realized that Sherry was to be hurt. What she didn't expect was to lose her life in the act. After days of lingering between life and death she wakes to find herself at the home of Viscount Sheridan. After her initial shock has passed she recognizes the opportunity that has fallen in her lap to get her three young charges (Pinch, Dash & Midge) off the streets.
Sherry does in fact take a liking to the young rascals and decides to make them his wards, hiring Lily (Miss Rose's real name) as their governess.
If the story seems fanciful and light, you have been fooled. The background of how Lily ends up in the streets of London as well as why she is trying desperately to hid her identity is a dark omen for the secrets that Sherry has in his closet. Each have made choices that have lead them to where they are now. No trust in their hearts and even less capacity to love, yet they find themselves opening to each other in wonderful ways.
I found that by Goodman not putting the whole story out there at once, she built the tension so that when the truth of the assassination debacle unwinds we are actually surprised to see how Lily & Sherry's life have been driven in parallel until the moment of the stabbing when their lives collided.
The Darkness of the piece is what leads me to believe I will have to think seriously on picking up Goodman's work again any time soon. Such despair in books are digestible in small doses and I have alot of Kinsale in my TBR pile for me to seek more books of that nature. Still the book was delicious and will be highly recommended in the future.