Sometimes the ability to find the good and the bad in any book means digging deep into your own subconscious and pulling out some sort of justification for what you just read. Although, I had a hard time finding it.
Originally this came out as a Shannon Drake book. Same title in 2004.
Here is the Blurb from the Drake title:
MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL…
Men! If they aren’t accusing Lady Maggie Graham of witchcraft or murder, they’re marrying her off to old men who drop dead at the altar. And now she’s going to have to save her unruly stepdaughter from a band of thieving, lustful street ruffians (men, again) with the help of the most infuriating man of all…Lord Jamie.
WHO IS THE MOST SEDUCTIVE…
Women! They conduct themselves in a completely inappropriate manner — enjoying risqué amusements in secret theatres: running about disguised in the seediest parts of the city — and then they call you vile names for coming to their rescue. And no woman is more wicked, more cunning, more intoxicating than Lady Maggie.
…OF THEM ALL?
Amidst the pageantry, rampant desire, and very real dangers of Queen Victoria’s London, a bevy of lovers is about to stumble into a spectacle of sin and scandal, where appearances are deceiving and anything can happen when desire is pulling all the strings.
Here is the blurb from the new version from Heather Graham:
Queen Victoria’s London is a teeming metropolis of pageantry, forbidden desire, and danger—especially in the East End, a hotbed of vice, witchcraft, and murder. What widow Lady Maggie Graham does there more than greases the rumor mill. When she agrees to wed the Viscount Langdon, there are those who would act upon their suspicions . . .
Experience has taught Lord Jamie well. He has seen his fair share of women behave inappropriately—enjoying risque amusements in secret theaters, running about disguised in the seediest parts of the city—and then they call you vile names for coming to their rescue. And no woman is more shameless, more cunning, more intoxicating than Lady Maggie . . .
Heather Graham/ Shannon Drake is a well known, well loved author. I have never read anything by her, but I have a few paperbacks of hers that I am going to pull down. She is a very good story teller. When We Touch was full of suspense and energy. I enjoyed the murder mystery very much. Using real people from history made this an interesting read.
It’s the romance part of the book that just about gave me hives. Lady Maggie Graham, a widow to a commoner (shame,shame on her for marrying a policeman!) is content with her life. She lives with her party animal brother, and she has absolutely no ability to reason out that he is spending money like it grows on a tree out back. She doesn’t even think to keep an eye on things.
Instead of having any concern at all for her brother’s philandering, friendships,gambling habits, or for his well being, she spends her days with her artist/writer odd-fellow who lives in her attic.
Why is there a man living in the attic? That is an interesting question. Who is he to her? Someone she cares for obviously. But not romantically, although I seem to believe he might have had a few feelings for her. Apparently he was a good friend of her husbands. I was hoping that Mireau (attic man) would suggest someone keep an eye on her brother, but I guess he was too busy.
Together these two go out into the east side. The worst parts of London, to work with the poor and the prostitutes. Her main goal in life is revenge. For what? Not for someone killing her husband, but for taking advantage of her while she was mourning. They took some of her money in a seance. She found they were fakes, and that is the reason she risks her life. Because the few pounds these people take from the rich apparently is appalling to her. There are worse crimes. Just sayin’.
So, finding and debunking mesmerists, and helping put them in jail or getting them deported is her lifework. I am sure that some people probably knew they were hoaxes and enjoyed inviting these actors to their parties for entertainment. She wishes to spoil everyone else’s fun by ruining a perfectly good parlor trick for the rest of us. Thanks Maggie!
So, she would rather focus on doing charity work and snooping than keeping her brother from making a complete idiot out of himself. Hindsight is a bitch.
Justin, Maggie’s brother also loves to tramp around the East Side. (It must be a popular place for this family) He gambles and whores and drinks until he can’t see straight. He is a regular prince charming. Supposedly he is trying to keep up with the illusive bisexual Prince Eddy. Apparently Prince Eddy loved shenanigans and Justin was willing to gallivant around with him, not caring about how much debt he put himself in.
So as they go about their biodegradable existence, things get dire. And that is when Uncle Anus (Angus) steps in. He is going to set things right, as he sees fit, because both Maggie and Justin are pretty weak minded people, and I think Uncle Anus knows this.
So, he tells them both that one of them must marry for money, and the sooner the better unless Justin wishes to be thrown in debters prison. Maggie agrees that Justin should marry. But… That is not at all what Uncle Anus is suggesting.
Maggie needs to marry. WHAT? she says, but then, after it is irrationally explained to the weak minded female that she needs to sacrifice herself. She decides that she will do it.
Maggie is soon to find out a man has already inquired about her. A wealthy man, who can solve all their problems and Justin, the dear boy won’t have to go to prison. Here’s the catch, Maggie dear. He is around 80 years old. (I kid you not.) The man is a great,great grandfather. This is the perfect solution to all of the problems of the world. Marry a lecherous old man. Why didn’t I think of that? Thank you Uncle Anus!
My hives began at this point. I started to itch. I started scratching my earlobe, and I am doing it again, just trying to justify the fact that an 80 year old man asks for a 24? year old widows attentions, and she,her uncle, and her brother have sat around and decided this is for the best. Now here is where this story gets tricky. Why is this Maggie’s fucking responsibility?
Does she blow them out of the water by telling them they can suck her left tit? No, Maggie decides to meet the man. At this point, my mouth starts to get that sour look to it. I continue, because , hell I don’t know why, but I am wishing at this point I had something to drink that was stronger than coffee.
He is invited over, of course he brings hotter than Death Valley asphalt in July, Jamie Langdon. The Great, Great Nephew of the man who wants to marry Maggie. ( yeah, I did say Great, Great). Jamie does not approve of what his Great,Great Uncle is doing. Not for the reasons that you would think, oh no. He is worried that Lady Maggie will take advantage of his sweet old uncle. (The itching at this point in the book has become unbearable and I start looking for Whiskey.)
When she meets Great,Great Uncle Charlie, she decides he is a sweet man. She also meets the hot great,great nephew. The great,great part has me now at a frown. A solid one. Of course she is attracted to hot Jamie. Maybe because he is actually her freakin’ age!
Jamie Langdon is affronted by what his great,great uncle is doing. More so, he is more upset that there is a young lady who wishes to take his dear uncle for a ride. Has he looked at his Uncle lately? There is something deeply wrong with this entire thing. Screw his uncle and his feelings or that he might be taken advantage of. Hell ya he is being taken advantage of. Flipping DUH. The man will get to put his hands all over a girl who should be his great grand daughter. Jamie should realize that he will be more than happy to pay for that poontang.
This entire thing makes me ill. This is what I would have said. And yes, Wonder Woman is fitting, if it was me.
Does Maggie decide to take the high road and refuse gramps attentions? No! She does not. She agrees to marry him!!! Agh!!! I had to put the book down for 4 hours to absorb this.
Now, If I can get past this part and into the real story, It is very involved and interesting. It brings the stories of Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, The way that people demanded justice for the women who were getting murdered and how the police were trying to handle it. It also touched on some very interesting behavior from some of the elite of society and I found myself happy to read about it.
I had begun to accept this relationship between Charles (Gramps) and Maggie. Not really accept, that is not the right term, but hope that he would die before he touched her. That is a little closer to the truth.
Of course what happened was that Jamie and Maggie started liking each other. I started hoping that gramps was actually matchmaking his Great, Great Nephew and was really not interested in Maggie. That would have been the awesome outcome.
What happened instead was what you would imagine would happen. Jamie and Maggie slept together the night before the wedding. Now, this bothered me also. Really badly. Yes, she felt that this was her last chance to be with someone who didn’t have saggy skin, and she was really attracted to Jamie. But… she was getting married the next day. I was expecting a bit of loyalty. She made the decision. She should at least stand by it.
Jamie expected the same. He wanted her to call the wedding off the next day. She didn’t. So, what happened next was entirely her fault and as horrible and uncomfortable as I felt during these next few pages, I felt she made that bed.
The images above pretty much sums up what happened. This is only the beginning of the book. There was a very good story in here, after we get rid of the Lecherous old guy. But still Maggie does not really begin to make me like her. I don’t honestly like anyone in the story. I can’t really think of one character in the entire book that I liked.
There was a few times when Maggie became remotely redeemable, then she would do something else that would make me question her as a good person. She made incredibly bad decisions that put people in dire circumstances. She seemed uncaring about anything but her lust for Jamie, and her determination to solve something that COULD HAVE BEEN SOLVED IF SHE WOULD HAVE JUST TOLD JAMIE.
This book has a lot of spunk and I really did enjoy the murder mystery parts of this story. I hated the romance, and I even skipped the sex, because usually it happened at the most unromantic of times.
I am going to read some of Heather’s older books, and see if I like them. Also she goes by the name Shannon Drake, of which I have quite a few of those too. If you love murder mystery, you may really enjoy parts of this book, heck, you may even enjoy the whole thing. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the one being too judgmental.
*I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank You.