A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.
Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.
But leading a double life isn’t easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London’s slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.
Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
I tend to love historical YA so when I read the summary to Tangled Webs I was captivated and knew I’d want to read it. I had hopes that this book would be romantic, atmospheric and addictive. Sadly, I didn’t end up enjoying it nearly as well as I hoped.
Though this book took place in 1725 London the setting never felt all that historical to me. I didn’t feel swept back in time nor did I get a clear visual of this world that Lady A/Arista lived in. There were some pretty descriptions and I did enjoy a scene taking place at a masquerade ball. Really though, masquerade balls are always a hit with me.
I enjoy a story where the main character is leading a double life so I did like seeing the way Arista handled that aspect of the story. I felt like it gave the reader a good picture of the character and added much needed dimension. Though I felt a slight connection to Arista I didn’t much care for her character. I didn’t necessarily need to like her to enjoy the story but for this book I found myself annoyed with her more often than not. For being the most notorious black-mailer she seemed a bit lost when it came to anything sneaky- yes she is only 16 but if she’s touted as the best I want to see evidence.
Sadly, I never was able to really connect to any of the other characters. I thought I was going to like Nic, Arista’s childhood friend and crush, but he really only came around when it was convenient to move the story along. Grae was easy to like but not easy to really care about. I wasn’t overly concerned about what happened to him or any of the characters throughout the story.
Because of my constant disconnect I wasn’t able to really get behind the romance which really impaired my enjoyment since it was a pretty prominent factor in the book. I never felt chemistry between the romantic leads and honestly everything between them felt rushed. It all seemed pretty insta-love. I really wouldn’t have minded the instant attraction if I’d have been able to feel it while reading.
The summary for Tangled Webs sold me on romance, a historical setting, a girl dressing as a boy–all things I love in YA fiction. Sadly, none of these really felt executed all that well. I do think readers who can connect to the characters and the romance will enjoy this far more than I did. And I must say, this arc was absolutely beautiful as I’m sure the hardcover will be as well.