James Swindler has worked hard to atone for his unsavory past. He is now as at home in London's glittering salons as he is in the roughest streets. But when the inspector is tasked with keeping watch on a mysterious lady suspected of nefarious deeds, he is determined to use his skills at seduction to lure Eleanor into revealing her plans. Instead, he is the one seduced, turning away from everything he holds dear in order to protect her—no matter the cost to his heart.
Comment: This is the fourth installment in the Scoundrel's of St James series by author Lorraine Heath. I've been reading the series for the past months and so far this has been more or less balanced and all the stories have been interesting.
This is the story of James Swindler, another of the boys part of the special group Lucien's grandfather helped when they were all children. James has developed a sense of justice during his teenage years so it was no surprise when he joined the Scotland Yard and is now considered one of their best detectives.
Eleanor Watkins is on a mission, she wants revenge from her sister's death at the hands of a rake. But he is nobility so she must investigate before acting and James is put on her tail to see what she would do and that way maybe they can protect the lord.
Both Eleanor and James start spending a lot of time together and their feelings get more obvious but it all seems irrelevant when the lord Eleanor was stalking is killed and soon after she disappears although having James as her alibi...
Overall, this was a good story, as intriguing as the others and it even had a special twist I didn't see coming! But the romance felt a little bit less romantic than the others. It was still sweet at times but because of the plot it all got a sense of not being as easy or without complications which means the story between them isn't totally independent from the plot line and that makes it a bit poetic, if we can say so, about the whole relationship.
The plot is quite ingenious and I was amazed by the twist a a certain point. I'm sure most readers thought about one things while reading but when the twist came out no one would expect it to be that way. I'm not telling as it will ruin the reading but let's just say all the notions most characters had about the heroine and why she was looking for revenge got a meaning no one would envision.
Obviously, this changed the tone of the story a bit and made it... well, not darker, but different from the expectations being build up to that moment. I wondered how romantic this could actually be from then on.
Of course, the author found a way to justify any action done and the end is the proof not all that appears is real because there were a couple more twists (less impressive but still) to solve everything in a way that would "save", so to speak, the protagonist's relationship.
James is the main focus here, despite everything. He is the one who belonged to the gang and after seeing his childhood friends all find love with a special person who not only deserves them but accepted them along with their past, he sort of wished the same could happen to him but we know he used to have feelings for Frannie (heroine book #3). I felt very glad to read at some point how the heroine changed his ways and made him realize how different it is when you are love and your feelings are reciprocated. I think one of the most touching scenes in the whole book was when James explained why he always seems rather sad and not as close to others. It was a very sad explanation but it all got better when he found love.
The heroine has secrets too but for a while it all seems to go a certain way. I liked how her heart was in the right place and everything she did was out of love and a need to find justice for a thing she couldn't change. What surrounds her actions I won't explain, it is part of the book's mystery but I'm very glad she is a true heroine.
Her relationship with James isn't always easy but it's good to see how they didn't give up and towards the end everyone worked together to solve the problems in action and to help James achieve his happiness.
Because I feel this isn't as immensely romantic as the others, I think it's one step down when comparing them but the epilogue is sweet and gives hope to any reader who imagines what can possibly be happening to beloved characters in the future.