From the opening I felt like I'd stumbled into a scene worthy of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Only set back a couple of hundred years to Regency England. Here it's the Cinderella Sisterhood and the magic artifact is not denim jeans but Garnett beaded slippers, (to me) reminiscent of those Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz.
Bella Jones has returned from Persia with her younger brother and sister to a small cottage in Oxford, England. On his deathbed her father, a noted ancient civilizations scholar instructs her to find the other half of an Egyptian treasure map from Alwyin. Who this is remains a mystery until her 'fairy godmother' the Countess of Milford, sends her off to secure a position as a curator with the taciturn, withdrawn Miles Grayson, the Duke of Aylwin, an avid collector of ancient artifacts.Suspicious of all, Miles wants nothing to do with Bella. Despite his best intentions, he is totally beguiled by her. Not to worry, he can always set her up as his mistress. Bella of course has plenty to say about that. The sparks fly with these two, and the plot deepens with ghost sightings, theft and the threat of bodily harm. Bella continues to search for the all important half of the map.
As an aside, I do so love that Bella can use a small dagger to great effect.
Even as the very thought of Bella worms it's way into his heart, Miles finds it hard to overcome his mistrust of everyone, including her. After all, 'Miles kept his thoughts and emotions tightly locked inside the surly facade of a beast. And like a caged beast he snarled at anyone who dared to venture close to him.'
The Miles and Bella story, more Beauty and the Beast than Cinderella, is quite different from the usual regency story with just the right touch of the exotic.
A NetGalley ARC