Genre: paranormal historical romance / fantasy romance
Powerful magic is afoot.
Millicent Pantere has lived her entire life in the notorious London Underground. She cares nothing for the problems of the crown or the intrigues of society. But the ladies of the realm are acting strangely, and Millicent is coerced into tracking down the rumors of a mysterious man – a magic man who comes in the night and disappears at dawn.
And so the hunt begins.
Millicent’s search leads her to one of Merlin’s legendary relics and the seductive knight whose fate is bound up with it. Centuries ago, Sir Gareth Solimere made the mistake of seducing the wrong woman, and he has been trapped ever since by a diabolical curse. He’s looking for the one who can break the enchantment – but in this world, there is no love without betrayal…
Imagine a Victorian London where magic never died. The stronger the mage, the higher his or her title. Birth is no longer the most important thing in society, magical power is. If the younger sibling is stronger than the oldest, the younger will inherit. If the children are weak in magical power, they will loose their title and estate and status completely to a stranger who will get it all.
Merlin’s offspring is numerous, and the not so white wizards have been experimenting on man and beasts and plants, creating horrors and wonders alike. Only the horrors are kept below London, in the Underground. The shapeshifters are looked down upon, but they have one big advantage over the normal humans: they are immune to magic, and can look through the most elaborate illusions the nobles create.
Millicent Pantere is a panter shapeshifter, living in the Underground. She has had to look after herself from a young age and is quite capable of protecting herself. She doesn’t need friends or family, although she does have one good friend, an old firebird shifter called Nell. And now the evil Duke of Ghoulston has captured Nell to make Millicent do his bidding. She is to go out in Society as a real Lady, and steal one of the Relics of Merlin for him. Millicent is not so sure this will work, a few months of tutoring does not make a streetcat into a lady, but she has no choice if she wants to safe her friend.
To her own surprise, blending in as the Duke’s country cousin is easy, except of course the Baronets (shapeshifters) immediately smell what she is. One of the young ladies quickly befriends her, and takes her to Lady Chatterly, the current owner of the Relic. Apparently, the relic comes with a secret: a cursed Knight of the Round Table who is looking for his one true love to break the curse. He will come out at midnight to the lady whom is wearing the enchanted bracelet, and seduces the lady in question, hoping she will be the one who will set him free. He will return into the bracelet at sunrise. Millicent doesn’t expect to end up wearing the blasted thing herself, but until the knight has seduced her, it won’t come off. Not for the Duke, nor for the Baronets who are chasing after her, following her from the Duke’s underground castle all through the Underground.
Millicent refuses to give in to the Knight’s seductive manners just to possibly end the curse, she treasures her virginity and won’t be swayed so easily. But spending a few nights together, on the run, Millicent and Sir Gareth get to know each other, and Millicent is falling for him. She admires his sense of honor, and how he genuinely seems to care for both her and Nell. But what if they do make love, and the curse is not broken, that means she will never see him again, as the bracelet only chooses a lady once. Sir Gareth has fallen in love with the fierce Millicent, even though she warns him she is incapable of loving anyone so deeply. He thinks differently, and to safe her he will gladly give up his own life…
It has been 4 years since the previous book in this series was published, and I was really looking forward to this one. I enjoyed the first books very much. Unfortunately, I am a bit disappointed in this one.
The story is entertaining enough, but I just don’t like the trope where the couple has to have sex because of the magic. So I did admire Millicent for refusing Sir Gareth time and again, but well, the man has been having sex with a different woman each night for centuries! Of course he went about it all wrong, how can you fall in love with a woman when you immediately on seeing her, set out to seduce her? Those things are completely different. And sleeping with married ladies, why would they fall in love with you in just a few hours?
It is also never explained how the Duke got a hold of Nell, and why he wanted or even found Millicent in the Underground and picked her for his dirty work. She was just working in a tavern as a kind of bouncer and barmaid. He was already employing a very willing and beautiful were-bat named Selena.
I did like the descriptions of the Underground, and the different kinds of creatures. Not the scary ones though. I liked Lady Yardley and how she immediately liked Millicent, but was still so very young and naïve. Queen Victoria was a good secondary character as well, and I loved how she fought the evil Duke when he had her under his spell. The ending of the book was good too, how Sir Gareth handled himself after the curse was broken. And the little hobgoblin in his new house sounds like fun.
I will certainly read more books in this series, but I hope for a story with more body like the previous ones.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian