The Hellion's Waltz
The Hellion’s Waltz is a lot of fun, but has a few flaws that knock it out of the DIK bracket and make it the weakest of Olivia’s Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series. It’s still well worth the read though, though.
Sophie Roseingrave is a piano teacher, tuner and composer with a problem. All she wants is to make her father proud of her, but with the whole family forced to flee London after they were fleeced out of their music shop, the most important thing is to make sure they manage to keep bread on the table. The large Roseingrave family has started over in the small English town of Carrisford, and they simply hope they can live without losing their shirts.
Ribbon weaver Maddie Crewe is trying to get out of her old life as a thief, but with wages so low and the need to fund her weaver’s union (The Weaver’s Library and Reform Society) she’s tempted back into the world of the light-fingered for one more heist. The entire union agrees that her selected mark – Mr. Giles, a greedy draper who’s betrayed all of them in some manner or another, stiffing them on money and taking credit for their work – makes a perfect target
Maddie and Sophie meet at the shop where Maddie sells her wares, and it’s lust at first sight. But Sophie – able to sniff a scam out with ease after being a victim of one herself – is suspicious of Maddie while Maddie decides to protect her plan to take down Giles by seducing Sophie – but she doesn’t expect her heart to become involved. Let the games begin.
I really liked Maddie and Sophie as individuals – they’re good people, working against hard odds to come back and make their lives better, and improve the lives of the people they know. I had a problem with the insta-lust-y nature of their story; Maddie walks into the room and that’s it for Sophie, which is such a cliché compared to the way the other love stories in the series play out. However, once their romance settles into a mutual attraction, it’s filled with appreciation and is steamy and sweet in equal doses.
My other main quibble lies with the transparent nature of Mr. Giles, who is such an obvious villain you can practically see him twirling his mustache every time he speaks. He made me yearn for a some nuance, and a villain with some grey shades.
The other minor characters – Mrs. Money and the other folks in Maddie’s union, Sophie’s family – all ring true and are wonderful additions to the story. And, as always, the interconnection between the books in the series is light enough that it’s possible to jump into this one without reading any of the others.
The Hellion’s Waltz is warm, sensual and lovely at heart. It’s not perfect – and if you only read one book in the series, pick up The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows – but it’s a damn fine story nonetheless.