Voices of the Night / Lydia Joyce. 2007

Lydia Joyce sure has a way with words. And once again she proves it with her latest book, Voices of the Night. I’ve enjoyed all of Lydia’s books. Her stories are a departure from typical historicals and feature unusual locations. This one was set in London, but not in the ordinary way. Our hero travels in the world of the ton, but our heroine most definitely doesn’t. This book gives us a look at both sides.

Maggie is an orphan with no last name. She’s known as Maggie of King Street, or Maggie King. She aspires to sing in the opera. It’s a chance for her to escape her past, and one man in particular. During an audition, she attracts the attention of Charles Crossham, Lord Edgington, who is looking for someone like Maggie whom he can turn into a lady and thus win a wager. This Pygmalian-like story includes fascinating lead characters, who are multi-dimensional and well fleshed out. They are attracted to one another from the start, and refreshingly do not dance around the issue. So there is plenty of passion as well. The villain is deliciously evil and there is a twist involving him that I did not see coming.

But all of this is surrounded by Lydia’s wonderful, lush prose. I am left with vivid pictures in my mind of the dirt and grit of 19th century London and a real sense of the Victorian mindset. Here’s a few sentences that exemplify her ability:

But at least once a week, a message like this came, telling her that Edgington could not come, the reminder of another life and another duty that Maggie was not a part of and did not comprehend. She had always assumed that nobs, being nobs, could do as they pleased, but it appeared that they had the freedom only to do as it pleased other nobs, which seemed a poor kind of freedom to come with so much wealth. She had the sense from Edgington, though never expressed, that high society was a kind of grandiose Punch and Judy show that unceasingly repeated an act that had ossified generations ago, the individual title bearers mattering no more than the identity of the hand inside a puppet.

I love this paragraph because it compliments what we learn from Edgington’s POV; he does indeed feel like a puppet and there’s no on in his life who sees HIM, Charles. Until Maggie, that is. And thus this most likely romance makes sense because Charles finds someone who sees him for who he is and Maggie finds someone who appreciates Maggie’s abilities and compassionate nature.

My only complaint with this book is that it ends rather abruptly. The last one did too. Anne Stuart’s books are like this. I’m one of those readers who like to see things go on a few more pages—to bask in the glow of the HEA I guess. Nonetheless, another A read.

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