I normally wouldn’t write a spoiler filled review on such a recent release but Lord Langley Is Back In Town was such a crushing disappointment that I feel the need to make an exception. Ok, let’s break it down for those who wish to remain spoiler free. I did not like Lord Langley, I did not like the deployment of the Nannies, I did not like the reinvention of Minerva, I did not like the breathtakingly cruel way Lord Langley treats his daughters, I did not like the central mystery and I most certainly did not like the return of the hermetically sealed heroine.
Other than that, the book was great. I mean, if you don’t care about any of that stuff you’ll be fine. You’ve got spies and shooting and nefarious plots and situational amnesia and duels and betrayals and all that sort of stuff. You could probably turn your mind off and enjoy Lord Langley Is Back In Town. As for myself? Well, Spoilers Ahoy Me Mateys, Here Those Spoilers Be.
Let’s start things rolling with Minerva. We’ve known Minerva (from the prior books) as being wound far too tight, disapproving utterly of Lucy for her low beginnings, an absolute stickler for propriety and a general stick pushed firmly in the mud. Why is Minerva this way? (Really, it’s spoiler time, I am not kidding around here!) Because she is actually her half sister. Yes, our Minerva is secretly not Minerva but instead the daughter of the cook who may or may not have also been a murderess. All her starchy ways have just been overcompensation during her masquerade. (I know!) She kept the diamonds from Lucy (and later Felicity) not because Lucy was common, but because she liked them so much. Right. Moving on, the reason Minerva is impersonating her sister is that her sister ran off to marry Minerva’s boyfriend forcing their father to substitute his similarly aged bastard for the blue blood said sister’s fiance never really met. Which Minerva agreed to do because – I don’t know. But she did. And he was old and smelly and couldn’t get it up. So! Despite being of lower bastard birth and having the sort of boyfriend that runs off with your sister and being a widow, Minerva is a virgin for our hero Lord Langley! He won’t catch anything from her! She’s been saved for his protection.
On the other hand, Lord Langley has banged half of Europe, with the utterly charming (read sociopathic) hobby of introducing lovers to his twin daughters as Nannies. The Nannies have appeared, having realized that he isn’t dead, and barge into Minerva’s home to await his arrival. Why is Langley going to Minerva’s house? So they can meet of course. There is a tedious story of Langley having to hide in plain sight and figure out who betrayed him and blah blah blah but I will leave you something to discover on your own. I’d rather talk about Langley and the Nannies. Mostly, they are jokes instead of women. There is one exception (Jamilla) but Langley primarily does what every man lucky enough to get a hermetically sealed heroine does – he looks at his former lovers with distaste and disbelief. Not long standing friends, he and these women. No, because that would make them Real People. A Real Conversation between Langley and the Nannies would rip open the plot (such as it is) and cut about a hundred pages. So, the Nannies are just comic relief or something.
What about Langley’s daughters? Has he told his twins he is alive? I really feel for those girls, actually. Given their father’s paramours as Nannies, dragged hither and yon by his spy career, dumped alone at boarding school by a certain age and then told he has died in disgrace – it hasn’t been sunshine and roses for Felicity and Thalia. Sure, they’ve got mad skills in all sorts of unlikely places, but their mother is dead and their father isn’t available to them. You can’t excuse that by writing a scene where he carries their letters by his heart even through French prisons and murder attempts. Those girls have had it rough. This makes the ending of Lord Langley even more breathtakingly cruel. Having cleared his name at last, does Lord Langley settle down to be a doting grandfather or apologetic father? Does he step back from the adventures that cost him and his daughters so much in life?
Of course not. He takes his wife, Minerva, and travels to China for years. Felicity, his more troubled daughter, undertakes a renovation of his townhouse in an attempt to please him. Is her reward his happy face? No, it’s finding out that she has three half brothers born during his travels. Half brothers he and Minerva wrote to her sister about, half brothers everyone in the family thought it best to keep from her, to just surprise her with. Is it any wonder Felicity is a bitch of a control freak? How does she look at his face without bursting into tears on a regular basis? How does she not slap Thalia across a room? Making this HEA even less of one, the new family plans to settle down at the family estate – the same family estate they promised not to evict another family from, a loyal family that was of great service to Lord Langley until he had sons and wanted to raise them.
I think Elizabeth Boyle and I are going to have to break up.