Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, Alison Goodman

February 12, 2017 Reviews 3 ★★★★★

Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, Alison GoodmanLady Helen and the Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen #2
Published by HarperCollins - Australia on January 1st 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 464
Source: My copy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository • Bookworld

Summer, 1812

After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen has taken refuge at the fashionable seaside resort of Brighton, where she is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club.

As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection.

When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston's annihilation.

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact is the second book in Alison Goodman’s Lady Helen series.

In book one, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, 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 paranormal underworld of demonic Deceivers and super-human Reclaimers.

This review contains spoilers for book one (but not for book two). You may prefer to read my review for Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club instead.

Ah, where to begin? If you’ve been listening to Tea in the Treetops Podcast for long, you’ll have heard Philippa and me raving about the first Lady Helen book. Well, I’m pleased to report that the second book, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact (or outside of Australia, just The Dark Days Pact), lived up to expectations.

After the disastrous events of her own ball in London, Lady Helen flees with the Dark Days Club members to Brighton, ostensibly for her health, but really to begin her training as a Reclaimer. Lord Carlston’s condition seems to be deteriorating, especially when Helen is near. Is the vestigal madness finally catching up with him, or could it be something stranger? When Mr Pike arrives in Brighton, he makes Helen take the Reclaimer oath, then gives her a task to perform. Helen must choose between her honour as a Dark Days Club member, or her loyalty to her friends.

It’s obvious that Alison Goodman is passionate about the Regency period and has researched thoroughly not only the Brighton of the early 19th century, but also the customs of the different classes, their clothing, hair, even the foods they ate. The settings are evocative and although the Brighton of today is quite different to how it is described in the book, I could imagine the bathing machines and ladies in their bathing gowns down on the pebbly beaches.

The attraction between Lady Helen and Lord Carlston is gaining momentum and their charged glances and accidental touches are pure swoon for readers. I do still feel, as I did in the first book, that Carlston is still very much a ‘Mr Darcy’ figure – moody and grumpy, but apparently with a heart of gold. I have always found (and I fully understand I’m going to be smacked down for this) Mr Darcy to be insufferable and his behaviour appalling, no matter how he redeems himself later in Pride and Prejudice. I hope that Carlston is able to soften in book three, despite the events at the end of this one (no spoilers!).

Helen herself spends a lot of time in this book dressed as a man, which really doesn’t help her in finding her new role in the Dark Days Club. She’s only just discovering the extent of her Reclaimer powers, and is appalled at the idea that she will probably have to take lives in the name of duty to the crown. There are so many secrets and lies, twists and turns that Helen must keep track of and I was on the edge of my seat with worry about how it was all going to pan out.

The supporting cast also got plenty of action and growth here too, from the Duke of Selburn with his untiring efforts to win Helen’s affections; the Dark Days Club aides, Mr Hammond and his sister, Lady Margaret; Helen’s Terrene-to-be, Darby; and a host of new characters introduced.

I flew through this book whenever I got a moment to read, and I was lucky enough to be able to read the last few chapters undisturbed on a plane trip. That did prevent me from screaming “Nooooooo!” for a lot of the ending, though. I’m desperate to know what happens next!

If you’re a fan of Regency-period romance, paranormal hunting-type stories or are interested by a combination of the two, then get into this series! It’s still a firm favourite of mine.

Book 3 – 2018

3 Responses to “Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, Alison Goodman”

    • Anni

      Absolutely, such a great sequel 🙂 I’m not sure how we got through the last year, let alone another one, haha.

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