Where it all began! This series is such a winner! I loved each and every novel under the arc of Maiden Lane.
Like some other reviewers I first came across this series when reading The Duke of Sin and was swept away so much by that, that therein followed a solid few days of reading the Maiden Lane series from this the very first chapter. 'And I kept asking myself how had I never read the series before! It's really different, and wonderful as it's complexity morphs into the simplicity of selfless love conquering all.'
Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire wants to avenge the murder of his mistress. Temperance Dews, a widow, cares for children in a foundling home her family began. The home needs a rich benefactor, Lazarus needs a guide to through the pitfalls of the dangerous slum known as St Giles. It seems they each have access to something the other wants and so a bargain is struck. The attraction that flares between these two is nicely done, sensual and explorative. Their story is the hinge that opens up the future fabulous possibilities that flow down Maiden Lane.
The fate of orphaned children in these times is a disturbing and a central theme for all the following books as the action flows in and around the home and St Giles. (The most depressing thought is that the abuse and trafficking in children has never stopped!)
The secondary story towards the end of Temperance's sister Silence is awesome. I was filled with admiration and deep sorrow for her. She is a rising star!
As in the later novels, I loved the juxtaposition between the fairy tale (this time, the cautionary tale of King Lockedheart) at the beginning of each chapter and the story. As I have said before, 'the employment of the fairytale as a lead in is superb. This use, as a foretelling of the events that follow is, put simply, just exquisite.'
Once again, and continually throughout the series I was amazed at how this tool works so effectively for each story. A fabulous use of a device that is as 'captivating as the main story that flows alongside.'