TOO DANGEROUS FOR A LADY – Jo Beverly
A Company of Rogues Book
Regency England, 1817
After the death of their parents and two brothers, Ladies Apollonia and Hermione Merryhew, though daughters of a marquess, inherited little…their father was known as the Moneyless Marquess. Apollonia has a husband, Sir William Selby, and three children, with whom Hermione lives; they barely make ends meet. A distant relative became the new marquess, who since has struck it rich when coal was found on the estate. He's a slimy creature who wants Hermione and tries to coerce her into marriage by offering to “be generous” to her sister and her family. But all is not lost. Great-uncle Peake, an elderly relative of the girls' mother, offers to leave them everything in his will if they come for a visit. So the family sets off on the trip with hopes in their hearts. Alas, at an inn on the way, Hermione's room is invaded by a man on the run, a poorly dressed man who seems to be a thief. And yet, she recognizes him as the handsome lieutenant she danced twice with at a ball—years ago when she was seventeen—and she has never forgotten their almost kiss.
The man is, indeed, the Lieutenant Mark Thayne who went to war after that ball, but he still works for the government. He calls himself Ned Granger and has infiltrated a group of revolutionaries who want to reenact the French Revolution in England. It's true there is unrest in the country, but these people, the Three Banded Brotherhood, will use anyone and any means to have their way. Unfortunately, Hermione attracts the notice of the worst of them. Thayne realizes she is now in danger, but he must juggle protecting her with the important undercover work he needs to carry on with.
The family arrives at Great-uncle Peake's to find him dying of a serious disease he picked up in the East. His case seems hopeless, but Hermione is determined he won't die, even though that would mean no inheritance for a while.
TOO DANGEROUS FOR A LADY has a complex, suspenseful plot very much in tune with the times…the use of coal gas for street lights, advances in science and medicine, and the political problems in a changing society, to mention a few. The hero and heroine spend little time together in the first part of the story; Hermione is ignorant of who and what Thayne really is, and the extent of the villainy he fights against. The cast is large as well, from the arch villainess—a French woman who delighted in the Terror in France and wants the same thing in England—to members of Jo Beverly's popular Company of Rogues series, who star in fifteen of her earlier works.
You'll enjoy watching Hermione really come into her own as a strong and caring woman. And Thayne has changes to undergo as well, as he now has someone who cares about him for the very first time. I highly recommend TOO DANGEROUS FOR A LADY as a riveting read, especially the latter half.