Bradley, Anna. The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray. New York: Lyrical Press, 2020.
ISBN-13: 978-1516110377 | $7.99 USD | 268 pages | Regency Romance
Behind the doors of the Clifford Charity School for Wayward Girls there lies a secret society of brilliant, fearless women who are bringing justice to London’s most corrupt aristocrats, one nobleman at a time…
Other young ladies might occupy their spare time with drawing or needlework, but Sophia Monmouth spends hers scaling rooftops and shadowing suspicious characters. Her objective: to gain information that will free a friend wrongly accused of murder. She hasn’t bargained on being spotted and followed back to the Clifford School by a mysterious earl who holds almost as many secrets as she does.
Tristan Stratford, Lord Gray, earned the nickname the Ghost of Bow Street because no man has ever escaped him. Sophia—all soft curves beneath her disguise—is a unique challenge. Determined to learn the truth about the Clifford School, he joins Sophia in a scheme that leads from Newgate’s cells to the pinnacle of power. But when desire is at odds with justice, succumbing to temptation may lead them both into the heart of danger. . . .
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray was the first book by Anna Bradley I picked up, as while she was on my radar since at least her first series with Lyrical, this was the first book that really stood out and piqued my interest due to the undertones of suspense in the blurb and on the cover, even if it does have a somewhat cheesy title. And it absolutely delivers, bringing a near-perfect blend of mystery and romance, with an almost Gothic feel.
I was drawn to Sophia right away due to her daring. I liked that she was willing to do crazy things like scale rooftops and chase after suspicious people in the name of seeking justice for a friend. Her schemes made the story a lot of fun.
She’s balanced out well by the law-abiding former Bow Street Runner-turned-Earl Tristan, Lord Gray (although I feel like Bradley missed a trick by not taking advantage of the Earl Grey tea puns!) I like how he has a mysterious persona of his own in the Ghost of Bow Street, which makes him and Sophia perfect adversaries, but also a wonderful couple once they come together. In typical fashion for this setup (and it does seem like this trope is very popular this year), she challenges him to think outside his by-the-book sense of morality, but Bradley makes it her own with her distinct style.
As this is the first of a new series, I can’t wait to see what happens next (book two looks so good!) And if you love historical romance that tends toward the more Gothic or suspenseful, with a feisty, determined heroine and a hero who can match her, then you’ll enjoy this book.
Anna Bradley writes steamy, sexy Regency historical romance. Anna’s first book, A WICKED WAY TO WIN AN EARL, won a Romantic Times Review’s Choice Award for Best First Historical. Anna lives with her husband and two children in Portland, OR, where people are delightfully weird and love to read.
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