Publisher: Justine Covington Books LLC
Publication Date: February 14, 2020
Series or Standalone: The Beggars Club #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Sexual assault, murder, death of a family member
I enjoyed His Lady to Protect, but something was missing from it to make me love it. I think I wanted a bit more from the central romance, even though it had some tropes that I absolutely adore.
Nate Kinlain, the Earl of Rainsford, promised to protect his best friend’s sister, Susannah, from her treacherous uncle. However, that’s easier said than done as Susannah blames Nate for her brother’s death. When Nate proposes a marriage of convenience to get Susannah out from under her uncle’s thumb, Susannah has no choice but to agree. However, as she starts to spend more time with Nate, she wonders if there is more to him than meets the eye and old feelings for her childhood friend begin to bubble up again.
I enjoyed the main story, yet I felt the romance between Nate and Susannah was missing that special something. I loved that Covington combined the marriage of convenience with also a bit of a faking dating trope. They were also childhood sweethearts, so there is a bit of a second-chance romance trope in this book. However, I felt like Nate and Susannah didn’t have as much chemistry as I was expecting. I wish the romance between Nate and Susannah had a bit more time to blossom and grow. Susannah truly hated Nate’s guts initially as she felt he abandoned her and led his brother to his death, yet she accepted him back a little too quickly for my liking. As the reader, we know Nate’s not the bad guy Susannah thinks he is, but I would have liked him to have to work a little harder to win her trust back. Susannah forgave Nate pretty quickly once she learned the truth about him, and it felt like all her past anger was just washed away, never to be mentioned again when he did deceive her.
While the central romance might not have been my favorite, one thing I really liked about this book was that it felt incredibly thoroughly researched. We learn pretty early on that Nate is working as a spy for the Home Office to figure out how Susannah’s Uncle is trying to aid Napoleon’s cause. I really appreciated how Covington wove the historical events related to Napoleon’s return to Europe after his exile to Elba into action and romance. It helped ground the story in the time and up the stakes, especially as the reader knows Napoleon does escape from his exile.
I ended up way more invested in the plot to expose Susannah’s uncle than I was invested in the romance. Mainly, it’s because Covington did a fantastic job in creating a truly evil villain with Susannah’s uncle, Captain Cressingham. That man was downright heinous. He honestly did not care one wit for anyone but himself and his own cause, treating Susannah and her siblings terribly. I hated that Nate had to try to bow down to him to get under his guard in Nate’s efforts to expose him for the horrible person he was. He truly deserved the worst possible ending as he was such a slimy, sleazy, villainous person.
Susannah and Nate as characters were fine, though I didn’t find them particularly memorable. However, I enjoyed the secondary characters in this novel. I loved Nate’s three sisters and his friend Tradwick. If there are more books in the series, I hope they’ll focus on some of the secondary characters as they brought me a lot of joy while reading.
Overall, I would have liked a bit more from the central romance, but I still found the story enjoyable thanks to the fabulous villain in the story. Truly, Captain Cressingham is one of the most heinous villains I’ve seen in a romance novel, and I loved just how terrible he was since it upped the stakes in the story.
I’m intrigued enough by Covington’s writing and secondary characters that I’d love to read more from her, especially if she continues with the Beggars Club series. If you have Kindle Unlimited and are a historical romance fan, this is one you should consider checking out as there are some delightful elements to the story.
I was given a free copy from the author for my fair and honest review. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.