The Gentleman's Gambit
Grade : D

The Gentleman’s Gambit is the fourth and final installment in Evie Dunmore’s A League of Extraordinary Women series. It features suffragist Catriona Campbell and Elias Khoury, who hails from Zgharta in North Lebanon. Catriona’s father has asked Elias for his help in cataloguing some Middle Eastern artifacts, but Elias has his own agenda, and seducing Catriona might get him exactly what he wants.

Catriona has just finished enjoying a nice swim when Elias happens upon her as she is drying off - stark naked. The two have an awkward exchange in which Elias has to assist Catriona in catching her underthings as the wind tries to blow them away, and then they part ways, hoping never to see each other again. Unfortunately, Elias is to be a houseguest in Catriona’s home. During a tense dinner, Catriona’s oblivious father announces he cannot accompany Elias to London and Catriona must do it. Elias has made them believe he is there to catalog some artifacts, but he is, in fact, there to steal some - not for personal gain, but because he strongly feels they should be returned to where they came from. He and Catriona travel to London where she meets up with friends and they discuss the suffrage movement. Catriona then confronts Elias about a theft committed against a French Count she believes he committed. He confirms his involvement, but explains that the artifacts stolen from the count were actually stolen to begin with; he did not commit the actual theft, but he did supply important information about their location to the people who did. Elias then asks for Catriona’s help in negotiating to return the artifacts he’s there to catalogue back to his homeland. If this fails, he is fully prepared to steal them instead to get them home however he can.

This was my first and will almost certainly be my last and only Evie Dunmore book - it was such a chore to get through. The first thing that turned me off was Catriona’s pierced nipple. Apparently, this was something of a trend among upper-class ladies of the late Victorian era but here, it simply comes across as an attempt to make Catriona edgy and different rather than being organically a part of her character. I don’t mind piercings, but if they’re present just to make a character seem more cool, I want no part of it.

The dialogue in this story is odd and does not feel at all natural, or like how people really speak to each other at all. It is laughably bad and I found myself cringing nearly every time someone spoke, which actually isn’t very often as there are pages and pages of characters’ thoughts and feelings, a lot of which center around Catriona’s failed romantic relationships, and not much character interaction.

As for the characters, I was ambivalent about Catriona and Elias who are both pretty unremarkable. The most interesting thing about Catriona is her pierced nipple. And Elias is equally bland, even though he’s supposed to be a thief.

The suffrage plot did not interest me at all, and often I felt as if I was reading a history book. Don’t get me wrong: I love history and find it fascinating, but so much of the history in this book is delivered as didactic/preachy speeches or info-dumps that I felt as though I was reading a lecture rather than a romance novel meant to entertain.

With lackluster characters, bad dialogue, and too many history lessons, I cannot recommend The Gentleman’s Gambit. Those who enjoyed the other books in the series might want to read it for completeness, but personally, I’d skip it.

Reviewed by Jessica Grogan
Grade : D

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : January 7, 2024

Publication Date: 12/2023

Recent Comments …

  1. Yep, that’s the long and short of it – I like her more as a contemporary writer because of this.…

Jessica Grogan

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