THEY SWITCHED NARRATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look, I'm sure Kirby Heyborne is a decent bloke, but he's not Steven Boyer, who at this point I began to obsess over. But I couldn't just drop this final book - so, I ditched audio and read it like a chump. And I loved every minute of it.
This time out, "bright young copper star" Timothy Wilde finds himself embroiled in his least favorite pastime - politics. The odious alderman, Robert Symmes, wants Timothy's reprobate brother, Valentine, to clean up a little mess. There's a radical suffragette, a former worker at one of Symmes' sweatshops, who is threatening to burn his various real estate holdings to the ground. Long story short, Valentine is appalled with Symmes' potential "reward" for handling this business, and loathing the man anyway, decides to throw his hat into the upcoming election. The Democrats are already splintered into two factions, Valentine going up against Symmes could lead to the city tearing itself apart.
When Symmes' suffragette appears to be making good on her threats, it's up to Timothy to ferret her out. All of this complicated by his brother's campaign, and unrequited love, Mercy Underhill, turning up in New York again, having been living in London for the last couple of years.
This book can probably be read as a stand-alone but I wouldn't recommend it. At this point the trilogy has really built itself one on top of the other, and this installment especially shows it. Timothy loathes Symmes for a lot of reasons (well, the man did want to kill him in the last book - so the animosity is sort of understandable), but finds himself backed into a corner helping him since he very well cannot sit idly by while an arsonist torches the city. Also the character development has been increasingly getting deeper with each installment. Valentine's guilt, his various romantic entanglements, Timothy's love/hate relationship with his brother, his very real fear of fire, and his completely jacked up feelings for Mercy, not to mention his relationship with Bird Daly (an orphan waif he rescued in book one) and his landlady, Elena, whom he is sharing a sexual relationship with.
There are a lot of things about this series that recommends itself to romance readers. For one thing, the history is outstanding. If you like historical romance but have been
Where this series may stumble for romance readers? Well, it's dark. And I mean....dark. The first book is about sexually exploited children. The second book is about free blacks getting kidnapped in the north and sent south, as supposed "escaped" slaves. Compared to those previous two books, this one is almost like a Sunday walk in the park, with bitter men bemoaning working women, seamstresses working in appalling conditions, and violence against women. While sex trafficking, and sexual assault, plays heavily in this story, all of it takes place off-page. That said, pretty much all of Faye's conflicts have been textbook examples of why trigger warnings exist.
I'm glad I listened to the first two in this series on audio, because I'm the sort who can have a hard time with period language. I need to get an "ear" for it. Faye employs a lot of period slang, also known as "flash." One of the reasons Timothy is so good as a police detective is that having been raised, in large part, by his brother - he can speak and understand "flash." It's a different way of communicating, that's for sure - but having now been immersed in it for two previous books, this final third installment flowed for me.
I went through this entire book hoping, praying, that Faye would have a change of heart and not end this series as a trilogy. But the epilogue kind of kills that dream. I will say that I think she's done the right thing by giving readers closure, and while the romance reader in me was somewhat disappointed (I like pretty endings - and no I won't apologize for that), I think the author ends the series well, the way she has to end it. She doesn't pull any punches, but she also doesn't pull anything out of left field that doesn't make sense. Where her characters end up is where they should end up - which, at the end of the day, is all I ever want as a reader.
I have loved these books. I loved the Steven Boyer audiobooks and I loved reading this final installment (like a chump). If you love historicals and can deal with dark these are the real deal. I haven't been this excited about a series in a long, long time and now *sigh* it's all over.
Final Grade = A