|The Heiress's Deception by Christi Caldwell|
Calum Dabney has a dark past. As a pickpocket on the streets, he'd been shot, stabbed and beaten all before his fifteenth birthday. During this time, he met young and rich Lena Duchess, a 9 year old girl of the peerage. Although he disdained and mistrusted her ilk, they became fast friends. That friendship blossomed and Calum came to trust Lena. That is until the day she betrayed him and he was sent to Newgate to be hanged for stealing from the Marquess of Downton, Lena's brother.
Seventeen years later, Lady Evelina Pruitt is filled with remorse and guilt. She is unable forgive herself for the part she played in the demise of her only friend Calum. She volunteers her time and efforts at the Salvation Foundling home to try to make amends for her past transgression. She makes sure the homeless orphans have somewhere to live, someone to care for them and food in their bellies.
But there are other pressing worries. Her brother, Gerald, now the Duke, is desperate for money. He intends to take the dowry set aside for Lena by their father. On Lena's 26th birthday, however, the money will be released into her care and her brother intends to obtain it at any cost. She has already thwarted one attempt at a rape her brother planned with Lord Flynn so that she would be forced into marriage. In hopes of avoiding and hiding from her brother until her majority, she takes a post as a bookkeeper at the Hell and Sin Club. Little does she know, that her past is about to be resurrected-literally.
Calum is now co-owner of the Hell and Sin club. Although Calum does not recognize her after so many years, she know it's him. She is elated and happy to know he is alive and well. Calum however, is more distrustful than ever and although he agrees to hire her, he knows she is keeping secrets. As time flies by, Calum starts letting down his guard again.
How will he react when he must choose between his family and prosperous club and the lady who both lied and betrayed him and whom he has come to love?
Christi Caldwell is one of my favorite historical romance authors. Her books are practically a must read. This book is no different. Although, I must say I was disappointed that there was no follow through on what happened with Gerald, Lena's brother. What happened with him after Calum decides to marry her? Nothing is really said.
The struggles and guilt the characters carry feels real and palpable. I love that Calum did not want revenge against Eve. It seems a lot of books will go this route and it was refreshing to read something new. The writing was beautiful as you can see from my favorite quote in the book:
“Do not presume to tell me what I ever dreamed of, Eve, for if you indeed knew that, you’d know that you were the only dream I’ve ever had.”
I definetly would recommend this book. It has all the feels and the writing is superb. Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake Romance for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.