Desert Isle Keeper
A Dangerous Invitation
Erica Monroe’s début historical romance, A Dangerous Invitation, takes us into the back alleys of London in an engrossing tale of betrayal, redemption and second chances. Kate Morgan has been forced into the rookeries through the bankruptcy of her father’s company, which happened as a direct result of her father’s defense of Daniel O’Reilly, an employee accused of the murder of a co-worker. Daniel fled and Kate’s life turned upside down – her father died, she was left destitute and she is eking out a survival for herself serving as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel is an alcoholic who fled the false accusation of murder, abandoning Kate in the process. Now recovering from his addiction, Daniel is determined to restore his good name and rebuild his relationship with Kate. Can he convince her that he’s worthy of a second chance?
The majority of historical romances set in London tend to feature upper class citizens. In contrast, this story shows the seedy underbelly of society. The characters here are thieves, beggars and prostitutes, people struggling to make a living and stay afloat in a world that cares nothing for their situation. It’s clear that author has researched the time period well. The attention to detail in the setting – the language, idioms, images and descriptions of everyday life bring the reader fully into the story and into the daily lives of the poor and those eking out a survival as best they can. Yet it is not told in a depressing manner, but rather with a matter-of-factness that enables readers to immerse themselves into the life being lived.
Kate’s situation is heartbreaking and shows the narrow edge of survival for people of her class. The ruin of her father’s company, his death, and her gender leaves her without many options. But to her credit, the drastic change in her circumstances forces her true character to the surface. Kate is a strong confident woman who will do what she must to survive. She has no qualms about her new chosen profession or about the company she keeps; she is courageous, daring and suffers no fools. Daniel’s re-appearance in her life evokes strong emotions but she is wary of trusting anyone, especially him.
And then there is Daniel. Such a flawed hero! He knows full well that his addiction to gin has cost him everything – his good name, his employment, his relationship with Kate, and his complete memories of what happened the night a man was killed and he was blamed for it. Believing the hangman’s noose was in his future, he abandoned Kate to her fate and continued down the path of alcoholic destruction. Eventually his memories of Kate haunt him and lead to an epiphany that he has to give up gin to save himself. Daniel knows how much his betrayal has cost Kate, and how much he must do to redeem himself in her eyes. I love the portrayal of his character. He continues to struggle with alcohol as is realistic for any recovering alcoholic. He is dogged and determined to prove his worth and clear his name. It’s this ability to admit his mistakes and fight to be a better man that makes him hero material.
Kate and Daniel have an explosive sexual chemistry. Despite their rocky history, their attraction to each other is undeniable. Daniel wants to recreate and strengthen what they had before while Kate fights the memory of their lovemaking. This creates a delicious sexual tension and as a result, the ensuing and inevitable love scenes are steamy and believable.
There are several intriguing secondary characters in this story – on both sides of the law. The suspenseful plot proceeds at a fast pace as the mystery of the murdered man is uncovered and the danger to Kate and Daniel increases. Readers will find themselves unable to put the story down as it races to its conclusion.
A Dangerous Invitation has everything I want in an historical romance – an excellently researched setting, wonderfully realistic flawed characters, steamy love scenes, fast paced action and an overwhelming feeling of complete satisfaction at the end of the story. Knowing there are more novels in the Rookery Rogues series is the icing on the cake.