Despite my initial inclinations that this might be mediocre I was drawn into the drama of The List.
The secretive, withdrawn Duke of Aldmere and the forthright beautiful lady Brynne Wilmot are drawn into the dastardly intrigue perpetuated by the corrupt Marquis of Marstoke.
Wickedness, political intrigue and one young woman's courage to carve out a different fate for herself despite being shunned by the ton are all bundled together in this deceptivey simple story.
Distraught when she realizes that her father is determined to marry her to an evil man to further his political aims Brynne flees to Hestia Wright, a notorious courtesan to kings and powerful men who now offered solace and sanctuary to other women, mostly prostitutes and desperate women struggling to find an alternative life. No woman was turned away.
Underneath are several key ideas. Being true to yourself despite the odds, having the courage to love, marriage as a contract of power between families and the plight and the rights of women in the society of the time.
The Duke of Aldmere is powerful, terse and emotionally locked off. As Aldmere reflects to himself, 'he'd got so used to repressing every emotion that he barely felt them anymore.'
His history is revealed as Brynne makes inroads upon his inner self. [ok, I really didn't like the use of 'got']
This is all played out against the background of the Prince Regent's apalling marriage with the Princess Caroline.
Hestia Wright's story, the courtesan to whom Brynne fled, is revealed at the beginning of each chapter presenting a tale to come I'm sure of evil being undone.
A love story, a story of women across the class divide this was an intriguing read.
I look forward to more in this series.
A NetGalley ARC