As they delve into the murky world of banking and international arbitrage, Charlotte and Wrexford also struggle to navigate their increasingly complex feelings for each other. But the clock is ticking—a cunning mastermind has emerged . . . along with some unexpected allies—and Charlotte and Wrexford must race to prevent disasters both economic and personal as they are forced into a dangerous match of wits in an attempt to beat the enemy at his own game.
Comment: This is the 4th installment in the Wrexford and Sloane series, which I've been following lately, featuring a scientist aristocrat and a female cartoonist as they solve some crimes taking place in an historical setting.
In this story, the crime they will investigate is somewhat related to their friend lady Cordelia and her brother lord Woodbridge. Everything seems to be well when a sudden piece of news worries lady Cordelia and soon she and her brother seem to have left London. Since there is an investigation ongoing, our protagonists quickly discover something is amiss in some businesses of the East India Company, and one of them is linked to lord Woodbridge. Since they know lady Cordelia is to be trusted, they decide to investigate and find proof she and her brother cannot be guilty, thus starting a very complicated challenge. At the same time, it seems the changes in her life have made Charlotte think more and more about where she is at in her life and what it could mean to also have feelings for Wrexford...
I can't say if it was the fact I could not give as much constant attention to this book or that its plot is simply less captivating, but this is an installment I wasn't as marveled by as with the others. Even the second one didn't amaze me but I feel this must be the weakest of the series, for now.
The story follows the same pattern of the others: Wrexford and Sloane join forces to investigate a crime and in the process deepen their relationship and that with those around them. This time, the crime is found to have some connection to their friends lady Cordelia and lord Woodbridge. These characters have been recurrent in the series and it does seem lady Cordelia will be or could be a match to their other friend Sheffield (but this could me seeing romance everywhere), and we also know she is a very intelligent woman who likes mathematics.
Based on this and on the characters being naturally good citizens, of course they are investigation the matter and the more they discover, the more complicated everything seems to be. It is even more dire because it's all somehow related to the East India Company, which has resources to keep things quiet or whomever digs into it, could find even more problems and not solutions. In a way, I think the fact the investigation is going wider than just a few people was a good idea but at the same time, as some readers have said, the more personal connection is a little lost and I didn't feel as invested.
As for lady Cordelia and her brother, these are characters we've come to realize are friends of our protagonists but it can be said they have not been as well fleshed and this means we don't really know what's on their minds. I suppose part of it was because the author had planned on further developing them after this installment or she wanted to keep the reader guessing in regards to their motivations and personalities, but I confess this was also something not as engrossing to me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm invested in the series and I've come to really like the protagonists and the secondary characters, so any story with them will be one I want to read, but... it is true this one wasn't as easy to feel motivated to read. Besides the plot issues, I also found the final explanations from the villain as being a bit too unreasonable, considering the amount of effort which went into concealing everything. This element was a little weak, I'd say.
To counterbalance this all, we obviously have the personal lives of the protagonists and their friends to be happy with. We do get to understand their choices and thought processes and it can be very lovely to imagine them as real people going on about their days and how likable they are, especially morally. They can be cynic and such but they all have a heart of gold. Some advance between Charlotte and Wrexford is made in this installment, which is great! However, I must be really picky because I wish there would be something more urgent, more glaring in how they express themselves or how others see them as a couple, because while some things were cute indeed, they could have been even better.
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