London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.
But leading a double life isn’t easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London’s slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.
Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
I honestly didn’t dislike the overall book, but there was a lot of elements in it that added up to an overall low rating. The biggest factor, I have to admit, is the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect to or sympathize with any of them. Not Arista, the main character, or her childhood friend/crush Nic, or her instalusty masked highwayman Grae, or the people who made the “tangled webs” in the story.
I WANTED to like Arista, but her character seemed so unrealistic. Throughout the book she’s conflicted about her feelings; having grown up on the seedier side of London, she’s always been used and she vacillates between “I want to be free!” and “I CAN’T be free, the only life I’ve known is this” in the book.
It scared her, this sudden burst of conscience. If she wasn’t Lady A, then who was she? Where did she really belong?
Alright, Arista’s character premise sounds legit, but she really, really wasn’t that strong of a character. Sure, she could do stuff with her knife (that the author never failed to point out was on her thigh – I get it after the fourth time, thanks). But sometimes she’d be badass with her knife and threatening people and the other times she freezes and hesitates and is caught up in a daydream or something. I find myself wondering how she was able to stay alive throughout her life, if she acts that inconsistent.
Don’t get me started on when she meets Grae, and sparks fly. The sparks flew so much that she got distracted in her spying game and seriously, I was like “Getcha head in the game!” while she was caught up in Grae’s stormy eyes.
“When he touched her bare shoulder, Arista forgot how to breathe. The warmth she remembered so well spiraled outward from his touch. When he curled his fingers around the back of her beck and inched her head closer, a frantic beat began in her chest.”
Grae himself seemed like a nice guy, but we see a very superficial side to him. You can definitely tell he cares for Arista, but his lack of character makes him seem quite shallow. Nic was the only character that seemed interesting in the book, and he hardly appears at all. The evil guys are as wooden as the main love interest and are your typical mustache-twirling blackmailers. If I had to draw a comparison, I’d say the characters are a bland meal without any spices or sauces to add depth and flavor to the eater, or this case, reader.
I think Bross does her best in making the historical setting seem real, but it kind of fell flat. There are cameos of real life people (dead, of course), but it’s just a brief mentioning that has nothing to do with the story. In fact, the historical background is just that – a background. The story doesn’t have elements of the time period to add to the plot, it just stands there like a cardboard stage. I’m sure most people would think that’s good enough, but I guess I was expecting something a little… more.
Overall, the ending was quite satisfying. There are still enough loose ends to make another book, but there wasn’t a cliffhanger to make me want to grab the sequel. I kind of liked it actually. I’d recommend this to people who don’t really read historical fiction – this is a pretty light and short read to get introduced to the genre. But to someone who’s been there, done that, then this probably isn’t something you’d enjoy.