Series: Lady Helen, #1
Published by HarperCollins - AU on December 14th 2015
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London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know that step will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.
Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of ruined reputation and brusque manners. He believes Helen has a destiny beyond the ballroom; a sacred and secret duty. Helen is not so sure, especially when she discovers that nothing around her is quite as it seems, including the enigmatic Lord Carlston.
Against a backdrop of whispered secrets in St James's Palace, soirees with Lord Byron and morning calls from Beau Brummell, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is a delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and dark choices that must be made ... whatever the consequences.
Lady Helen’s adventures have been described by one publicist as “Elizabeth Bennet meets Buffy”, and that pretty much sums this book up in a few words. By turns witty, delicious Regency society drama and dark, action-packed adventure, I could not put it down.
Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to step into the polite society of Regency London, to win herself a worthy husband at the urging of her Aunt and Uncle. But when the strange Lord Carlston reappears in London (rumors are that he murdered his wife!), Helen finds herself drawn out of her comfortable propriety and into a shadowy underworld.
The descriptions of Regency London are rich and detailed and can get a little long-winded, but fans of Jane Austen books should enjoy these parts. Early on, Helen’s introduction to society drew out a little and the story was slow to get going, but once the supernatural started to appear there was no stopping it. The country is full of soul-sucking Deceivers and only the Reclaimers can keep the population in check.
Helen herself is such an awesome young lady. She’s trying to fit in with her Aunt’s ideals, stepping out of the shadow of her mother’s scandalous reputation and entering into the party lifestyle with her friends. At the same time, she is sneaking off to the bookshop to read natural history books. She resists getting involved with the Reclaimers because of the damage it could do to her reputation, but then she can’t help herself and jumps in anyway. I loved her courage!
There’s a beautiful slow-burning romance that manages to smoulder with the characters barely touching each other. There are also, however, slightly jarring references to the demons and their sexual habits, which in modern society is fairly standard but for those very proper and modest times, extremely shocking. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by Helen’s first encounter with a Deceiver (as I think a lot of other reviewers were, am I right Jeann?). That part, as well as the other more graphically violent scenes, made the story more gritty than perhaps the Regency drama fans might have been expecting. I LOVED that about it, though (well, I didn’t love the violence, but I loved that Alison didn’t hold back).
In all, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is one of my favourite reads of the year already and it’s still only January! More soon, please!