I’ve been loving the intrigue in this series so far as the Emperors of London battle the Dankworth family for social and political supremacy, with all the underlying tensions that relate to the latter’s attempts to seize the throne via various descendants of James II. The Old Pretender may have lost interest, and the Young Pretender is far from the glamourous figurehead of ten years previously, but there are other secret children, whose identity is known to only a few, and some of whom may have a greater claim to the throne than Charles himself, if only they were to side with the Dankworths and against the crown. Enter Dominic…
Although Dominic is believed by society to be the son of the Earl and Countess of Brampton, he has known for some time that he was secretly adopted overseas and feels that that his two cousins – both now deceased – had more claim to the title than he did. Because of this he has made his name as an army officer, only returning to England after his parents failed to find any other living relatives who might inherit in the event of both Dominic’s and his father’s deaths. Six months on, Dominic is no closer to the second part of the bargain he made with his supposed parents: to marry and provide heirs prior to returning to his duties overseas, but then he is summoned to see his former commanding officer and instructed to spy on the Young Pretender, who is currently visiting London. Dominic has spied for the crown before, although he fully acknowledges this to be a less-than-honourable job for an officer, and reluctantly agrees. Before he can get to work, however, he spots a beauty buying fabric for a new dress with her twin sister.
Claudia is the wilder of the two women, while her sister is the bookish twin, but both are fiercely loyal to their immediate family and to the wider clan of the Emperors. Having met Dominic once she manages to bump into him all over town – including at a house of ill-repute in Covent Garden, which was bequeathed to her by an aunt and is also the current hiding place of the Young Pretender. Dominic rushes Claudia away, but not before she’s been spotted – a fact which could be made much of by their enemies later. Several misadventures later – mostly initiated by Claudia – Dominic and Claudia are betrothed, which makes Claudia very happy, but which is a less welcome prospect for Dominic as more details of his true parentage are brought to light.
One thing I really like about this book, besides the characters, is the emphasis placed by the good guys on the fact that, since James II was deposed, no monarch has been able to reign without the consent of the people (or at least without the consent of those at the very top of society). I’m also cheered by the mention of an Emperor who prefers his own sex and is in a highly discreet relationship with another young man of good standing. I’d like to see more of their relationship, but am uncertain of how it would fit in with this series’ overarching themes of inheritance and legitimacy. Please, though, don’t let them be brought into the spotlight by the suggestion I’ve seen in at least one other review, i.e., the setting up of a threesome.
All in all, this is almost my favourite out of the series so far (just losing out to Book 3), and I can’t wait to see how the plot will thicken in the next one.
Read Veena’s review here.
Like the royals for whom they were named, the Emperors of London family have enemies and rivals of their own…
As a soldier for the Crown, Dominic is charged with locating the Young Pretender to the British throne so he can be tried as a traitor. But his mission is altered when he meets Claudia Shaw, an intriguing young woman who has inherited a house of ill repute. In an effort to protect Claudia from her own recklessness, Dominic finds himself allowing the Pretender to slip away…
Claudia is one of the Emperors of London, but her family despairs of her impetuous behavior. And try as he might, the disciplined Dominic cannot quite curb her excesses. In fact, she soon drags him into her adventures—and toward a passion neither can resist. But when a deadly secret comes to light that puts their lives, and their love, at risk, Claudia won’t allow Dominic to sacrifice himself. She is determined to have him—even if it means getting the Young Pretender out of the way herself.
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