Review: The Danger of Desire by Elizabeth Essex

danger of desireReviewed by Janell

I read and enjoyed two books in Elizabeth Essex’s Reckless Brides series, and figured I should read all of them. But then I balked at the $6.83 price tag. I know. I swear to you that, on the day I looked this up, the other books were listed as free in the Kindle Unlimited subscription. I didn’t have a subscription but figured I could try it for a month and read all the books and save a whopping $10.50. Huh, now that I write it out, it’s not an impressive discount.

Anyway, the other books in the series were not on KU, but this book was. The hero of this book later shows up as a captain in the first Reckless Brides book, so I thought, why not? For backstory.

Captain Hugh McAlden’s leg was injured on a recent mission, and he’s been recovering in London, hoping to get back to his ship and maybe get promoted to knighthood. While he rests, he’s recruited for a Secret Naval Mission. Someone in the Naval Office has been leaking secrets to the French, and Hugh is tasked with finding out who the traitor is. Secretly. He’s experienced in espionage (this book is the third in another series where we probably saw some of those missions), and particularly good at recruiting street rats to do some stealthy stealing for him.

Meggs Tanner is a prime filcher from Seven Dials with the accent and slang to go with it. She and her younger brother Timmy can steal from a drunk Lord in five seconds. They’ve run all manner of schemes trying to stay alive, and Meggs is stashing away their laundered money in a real bank so that someday they can escape to the country.

One afternoon, Hugh notices Meggs bump into a wealthy gent, and he just has a feeling about her. He chases her through the slums, finally cornering her in an alley, where she denies being a thief. Then she throws a basket at him and does some kind of parkour up the wall of a building and through a broken window. She does not want to be caught.

Hugh is smart, though, and eventually tracks her down again. He offers her a job and immunity from the hangman’s noose, and Meggs thinks about it. When the cut from that blasted broken window turns septic and nearly kills her, she decides that working for a gent for a while will be better than dying on the street, so she heads to Hugh’s house. After they play cat and mouse, ending with some wrestling and Meggs passed out on the floor, the job begins. And Hugh is in lust.

I didn’t like Hugh’s insta-lust. He sees Meggs as an uneducated desperate woman whose arms are too tan and whose hands are too rough to be a real lady, and somehow that turns him on. “Only God knew why he was attracted physically to the dirty ragamuffin that Jinks had shown into the study.” To me, it kind of felt like he wanted to go slumming. He also seemed pushy. He believed Meggs to be a loose woman, and believed that she wanted him, so he wasn’t exactly patient or waiting for a lot of consent when they first hooked up, which, no.

Meggs is a tough girl, always looking out for herself, stealing a few things here and there just to “keep her hand in,” as she tells Hugh. She knows everything about everything — picking pockets, picking locks, changing clothes to blend into the background, changing her accent to match, plus she reads and plays piano. Of course Hugh wants her forever. She doesn’t trust him, but eventually he wins her over.

To my dismay, there was no ship action in this book. There was spying and subterfuge and hijinks, though. The story was good, but the characters weren’t romantic enough for my taste.

Rating: C+

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Danger of Desire
by Elizabeth Essex
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Brava

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