Tangled Webs by Lee Bross (3 out of 5)
Arista masquerades as a boy most of the time going through London (for her safety). The rest of the time she wears a mask and is known only as “Lady A”, a women who keeps secrets for the town- for a price. What self-respecting lady would go through London doing that? One who’s in debt and servitude to a horrid little man named Bones, who has the secrets to many of the secrets of London’s elite. Bones “rescued” Arista and Nic, her best friend and accomplice who was in the same orphanage with her, from the orphanage, into his “employ”. When I say that, remember the words horrid little man. Arista and Nic grow up in a life of hardship and are taught by Bones and his minions how to blackmail the whole of London FOR HIM. Well, it’s mostly Arista, and Nic provides the muscle and acts as her bodyguard. Arista dreams of a better life – away from London and Bones- someday, while Nic has settled into and kind of likes the odd power he has over London. Arista ends up at a party to serve another Lord his notice on payment when she meets and immediately falls under the spell of a master shipbuilder named Grae. They dance, sparks fly, and she’s immediately dreaming of a new life with Grae.
This occurs less than a chapter after she’s in Nic’s arms experiencing some weird chemistry type feelings and a kiss with him. That begins the merry-go-round that is the heart of a young girl.
Enter Wild, a secretive man who offers Arista the chance to escape Bones’ clutches and work for HIM, doing essentially the same thing. Arista runs off one night, a fire breaks out, and she and Betty, her “maid” and friend in suffering, are trapped, along with Bones and his men. She goes under, only to awaken under the care of Wild, who somehow ran along the fire and rescued her and Betty. Bones perishes, and Nic is presumed dead. A distraught Arista has no idea what to do so she strikes up an uneasy alliance with Wild, who seems to be the savior. Wild sends her and Betty to a house to stay as guest. Oddly enough, it seems that the family is that of Grae, the shipbuilder to whom Arista shares an immediate attraction.
Suspend disbelief in ironic circumstances. For the moment.
Things are revealed in quick fashion, and Arista realizes that not only is Wild possibly worse than Bones ever was, but that she has brought Grae’s family into immediate danger with her actions. Arista gets several shocks rather quickly, but just as quickly as that happens, she herself finds herself sentenced to death by hanging at midnight. What the hell? you may be asking (rightfully so). It all wraps up quite quickly after Arista’s capture.
Several things: – The book is quick moving and doesn’t lag. Arista is a great heroine, it’s the men in this book that puzzled and aggravated me, not to mention her quick wit and intelligence taking a back seat to myriad and confused feelings for all the men who take center court in the story.
-You won’t know what to make of Nic. I didn’t before, and I didn’t after.
-Grae almost seems too good to be true. He isn’t, thankfully for the story and for Arista, but almost so much that he’s milquetoast. There, I said it. Milquetoast.
-I guessed half of what was up, and hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t. That made me lose a lot of interest in the story. Which is a damn shame, because I really did like this book overall. But that stopped it from being everlasting love and turned it more into a romantic canoe ride on the Venetian canal.
-That cover, if it’s still the same cover when published, is fantastic. The title? Appropriate for the story, the twists, the turns, and the end.
If you like a story of a wily heroine who takes no crap, keeps on fighting, and a number of twists and turns that test her mettle to the highest degree, this is a book you should read when it’s published.
Tangled Webs is out on June 23, 2015 on Hyperion/Disney Press (Warner/Hachette).