Monday, May 30, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Unmasking the Thief by Mary Lancaster

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Book Five in Mary Lancaster’s Pleasure Garden Series is now available: Unmasking the Thief. I’ve enjoyed this series all along and recommend starting with Book One: Unmasking the Hero.

The current hero is Francisco de Salgado y Goya de Valdecara, otherwise known as Mr. Francis. He’s a world-weary Spaniard who considers England his adopted country. For this country he has been a spy and other unsavory things. However, he is honorable at heart and so is tired of the man he has become. He wants to retire, but England needs him to do just one more thing.

The heroine is Mathilda (Matty) Mather, a country gentlewoman turned governess to the Dove family. (We’ve met the Doves in previous books.) Matty loves her work and adores her charges, even if they do get into scrapes. Her main problem is that her sister has inherited a fortune and is now being courted by Sir Anthony Thorne, a rising political star, an obvious fortune hunter, and Matty’s one-time fiancé. She can see through him, but unfortunately, her sister cannot.

Francis and Matty meet, both incognito, at the Maida Pleasure Garden. Francis was there to intercept a message about an intended violent political uprising. But he made a rare mistake, stealing not the ring that was supposed to contain the hidden message, but a ring belonging to one of Matty’s charges. Matty is there to retrieve the ring. Sparks fly.

The ton is a rather small world and their paths keep crossing. Suspicious of one another at first, they quickly dispense with that and join forces, falling in love along the way.

The characters are admirable. The relationship is credible. The plotting is fast paced. It’s nice to see so many of the characters from the previous books returning. This series is highly recommended.

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