From nineteenth-century London’s elegant ballrooms to its darkest slums, a spirited young woman and a nobleman investigating for the Crown unmask a plot by Napoleon to bleed England of its gold. Chance led to Charlotte Raven’s transformation from chimney sweep to wealthy, educated noblewoman, but she still walks a delicate tightrope between two worlds, unable to turn her back on the ruthless crime lord who was once her childhood protector. When Lord Edward Durnham is tapped to solve the mystery of England’s rapidly disappearing gold, his search leads him to the stews of London, and Charlotte becomes his intriguing guide to the city’s dark, forbidding underworld. But as her involvement brings Charlotte to the attention of men who have no qualms about who they hurt, and as Edward forges a grudging alliance with the dangerous ghosts of Charlotte’s former life, she faces a choice: to continue living in limbo, or to close the door on the past and risk her heart and her happiness on an unpredictable future.
The emperor’s Conspiracy took me quite by surprise; it was not what I thought it would be at all. I was expecting a normal historical windswept romance (of which I am a fan) instead I got an entertaining and complex mystery with plenty of heart.
This book is clever in the way that all its numerous plots and twists tie themselves and you in knots, there is a lot going on, a lot to take in and I must admit that there were a couple of times where I got a little confused. But at the end these knots are ironed out and all questions are answered.
The writing in this book is good. I found it easy to envision and easy to get lost in the pages. Every chapter seemed to end at a point where I just could not possibly stop reading and so it led to a very late night for me.
I loved the characters. Charlotte is caring but fierce, she is a little confused but for genuine good reason. She is not a ‘silly’ girl as so many book heroines are. She is not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve and let people know what she really thinks about them. Her relationship with the moody Edward is good. He is clearly often exasperated by her and worries about her often without getting to possessive or out of hand. There is a little romance here but I feel like I must point out that this is NOT really a romance book, the small amount there is gentle and well behaved. I feel like this book has been marketed more as a romance and if that is all you are looking for you will be disappointed.
The real triumph of this book is the relationship between Charlotte and Luke. Their relationship is an unhealthy one for both of them but they could not be without one another even if they want different things. Luke wears pain like a medal, he has been through a lot and I think he wishes to do the best thing but he is so full or hate from all his misfortune that he can’t. I really liked him despite his meanness and I loved the complex and heart-breaking relationship between him and Charlotte. It was hands down the best part of the book.
The worse part of the book was the ending. It tied up all the loose ends of the plot but it was so abrupt and sudden that I felt like I needed more closure on things. It is the only really negative thing I have to say about the book.
I would recommend this to anyone who liked to read, this is not one just for romance lovers. A word of warning that there are some sensitive issues bought up and discussed here (child abuse, rape, etc) not once are these issues treated with disrespect or used as a shock tactic but they are there.
Published November 27th 2012 by Gallery Books. A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads
Review by Kate Phillips
Review by Kate Phillips