Lately I’ve been developing an appreciation of romances with an espionage twist on the age old story of boy meets girl. Having that element of danger and intrigue mixed with the emotions of two people falling in love just seems to heighten the overall reading experience for me.
If You Give a Rake a Ruby opens only months after events of the previous title, with the underworld of London moving to find the so-called Diamonds in the Rough and eliminate them one by one. As a former operative for the War Office, Warrick Fitzhugh has made it a personal mission to discover the one responsible for leaking the list and who may be funding the termination of the men. In rooting out the crime lords responsible, Warrick also discovers that one of the infamous Three Diamonds, Fallon the Marchioness of Mystery, may be the best leverage he needs to get the answers he wants. Warrick, being a man who deals in secrets, knows exactly how to manipulate Fallon into helping his investigation by threatening to reveal some of hers to the society that has embraced her. With nothing but her reputation sustaining her current way of life, Fallon has little option but to agree.
The action for Warrick and Fallon takes off very quickly past their first meeting, with the two of them traveling into some of the darker recesses of London and into worlds Fallon would much rather put behind her. Ms. Galen does a great job of keeping the pace of the story fast and intense as the characters encounter increased danger and risks. There was an action-movie like quickness to the read as a scene might unfold into a chase sequence or the characters find themselves literally holding their breath to prevent discovery from their enemies.
Warrick was quite the progressive male character for the times that he lived in. He is quick to realize that Fallon has more to offer the case then just her connection to his suspect. I really enjoyed how he listens to her and takes her input under advisement rather than dismissing it because he’s the spy and she isn’t. He trusted her street smarts, understood how she had come by them and respected how she used them to survive even while hiding under the polish of her courtesan disguise. It was because of this regard for her that I could believe how quickly his feelings move from mere lust to a real love for her.
In Fallon, I liked how her involvement with Warrick shakes her from her complacency. She had built up her image and her walls so well that she was starting to believe that was the real her. However having to face her past as the woman she is rather than the scared fifteen year old she had been gives her that moment of self-awakening. Fallon is finally to see that she was more than the façade she showed to the demimonde and she carried great strength within her. In Warrick she found an equal rather than a protector or a man who would use her for his own gain.
My one dislike while reading Fallon and Warrick coming together was when, where and how often they chose to “come together.” This book was far from an erotica or even a heavily sexual book; however in the course of the story there were a few times where the momentum was lost because the characters couldn’t keep their hands off one another. The intimate scenes were well written and in terms of the relationship they were necessary to help Fallon overcome all of the emotional walls she had built up against trusting a man’s emotions, but I got to a point where I was tuning out the love scenes to move on to the next character or action scene. I realize that the author must find a balance between the intrigue plot that is carrying the story against the romance that is keeping the characters together, yet I found myself wishing they would stop rutting around in offices or back alleys and get their minds back to the case.
At the close of If You Give a Rake a Ruby the author leaves just enough of a cliffhanger to keep her audience on tenterhooks for the final story of the series, hinting at more secrets from the Countess of Charm and her own links to the Diamonds in the Rough. Shana Galen has quickly earned a spot on my auto-buy list not only for her Jewels of the Ton series but some of the other unique historical-spy stories in her catalogue.
~Reviewed by Sara
Book: If You Give a Rake a Ruby
Author: Shana Galen
Other books in the Jewels of the Ton Series: When You Give a Duke a Diamond