Violet and the Bow Street Runner
Violet and the Bow Street Runner is the second in Emily Larkin’s Garland Cousins series but can be read as a standalone. The titular Lady Violet Garland has the unique ability to fly, given to her by her family’s faerie godmother (see the Baleful Godmother series). She uses this ability to help Principal Officer Perry Wintersmith solve a mystery, all while they fall in love. This is a fun read with an extremely interesting heroine, a non-titled hero, and an enjoyable if slightly predictable mystery.
Lady Violet attends a ball and watches a man as he very clearly tries to make himself invisible. Nicknaming him “Mr. Bland”, she decides he is not worth watching and leaves the ball to return home early for her favorite pastime: flying. Violet’s family has a huge secret; they have a faerie godmother who grants each female one wish on a landmark birthday (which birthday depends on which branch of the family they come from.) Violet chose to be able to fly and loves flying over London, even if she wishes she had someone to share it with. While on this particular flight, she sees one of her acquaintances from the ball and realizes Mr. Bland is following him. Intrigued, Violet switches her targets and is caught, thankfully walking, by Mr. Bland – who reveals himself to be Periander Wintersmith, a Bow Street Runner. Violet guesses he is investigating the man he was following and pleads with him to let her help. He refuses until the next night when he catches her flying and cannot deny she can offer the sort of assistance no one else can. After this, Violet begins visiting Perry’s bachelor lodgings regularly to report what she has seen that he cannot. She and Perry soon start to develop feelings for one another, but he feels he is far too below her in terms of social standing (even though his uncle is a viscount) to even think about her in that way, especially as his father gambled away the family fortune. Besides, he plans to rejoin the army as soon as he finishes his current assignment and cannot afford a wife. Eventually, Violet convinces Perry that she is a grown woman who knows her own mind, and he is the man she wants.
This is my first Emily Larkin book, but it will not be my last. I went into it without knowing about the magical angle, so I was delightfully surprised when Violet hopped out of her window and began flying. I love when genres mix, and to have fantasy brought into an historical romance is so much fun. Violet’s flying abilities do not feel like an afterthought, either, but fit into the narrative well. They are quite an asset when she and Perry begin trying to solve their mystery, another genre I enjoy being mixed with romance. The person behind it might have been fairly obvious, but wanting to know their motives kept me reading.
I liked Perry more than I liked Violet, who comes across like a child playing a game for much of the book, and she certainty is not as worried about her reputation as perhaps she should have been. Perry, on the other hand, is all too aware of what their escapades could do to Violet’s reputation and as a man of honor tries to talk to her out of accompanying him. He’s one of my favorite types of heroes, serious on the outside with a fun sense of humor once the heroine begins to get to know him. He is also such a sweet man, caring for Violet even as she aggravates him. On the downside, the ‘I’m not good enough for her’ trope does get a bit tiring after a while, but not enough to truly detract from the rest of the story.
Overall however, Violet and the Bow Street Runner is a fun tale about a heroine with a magical gift and a hero who works for a living. The mystery is not the most complex, but it kept me reading anyway. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to go back and read the rest of Larkin’s Baleful Godmother titles.