Author: Jeannie Ruesch
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, romance
Published: January 27 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Aria Whitney has little in common with the delicate ladies of London society. Her famous father made his fortune hunting archaeological treasures, and her rustic upbringing has left her ill-prepared for a life of parties and frippery. But when Gideon Whitney goes missing in Egypt, Aria must embrace the unknown—armed with only the short list of highborn men who’d backed her father’s venture, she poses as a woman looking for a husband. She doesn’t intend to find one.
Adam Willoughby, Earl of Merewood, finds London’s strangest new debutante fascinating, but when he catches her investigating his family’s secrets, he threatens to ruin her reputation. He doesn’t intend to enjoy it so much.
When their lustful indiscretion is discovered, Adam finds that he regrets nothing. But now, as her father’s enemy draws near, Adam must convince his betrothed that she can trust him with her own secrets…before it’s too late.
Cloaked in Danger is one of those novels best termed a "romp". It's pretty action-packed, important events come often and move at a quick pace, and there's a significant amount of romance around the two leads as they race to find Aria's father and defeat the bad guy. It all adds up to a rather fast read at just shy of 300 pages, but the time spent with Ruesch's two compatible main characters is both enjoyable and entertaining, if slightly familiar in a "been there, read something somewhat like this before" kind of way.
I liked Cloaked in Danger but there is room for some growth on behalf of the characters. I liked them both as individuals and as people, but both Aria and Adam feel a little stiff for protagonists of a novel. Aria's origin story has been told many times before (ill-fitting debutante must find/save someone/thing and is forced into improper circumstances as a result) but I liked her fiery personality and her determination to find and save her dad. She's got fire and she often thinks herself out of a bad situation. Adam and Adam's family intrigued me the most, though shown sparingly; their minor subplots were interesting without detracting from the main story.
I did think the use of third person POV for both narrators made each chapter read very alike and their voices weren't nearly identifiable/different enough. You know it is Adam or Aria depending on pronouns/what is happening, but voice is not a clue. It can also be distancing to use that POV, and that effect was noticeable here. I liked and cared about each, but I never fully invested or connected with either character. Third person is notoriously hard to effectively pull off, especially with less than ideal narrators using the POV.
The plot is fun and twisty, and Ruesch isn't afraid to go dark with her story. I was surprised at how early the villain was revealed, but happily the reveal of Whodunit did come as a surprise. There's ample time for the final conflict to build into a giant confrontation and I wasn't disappointed with how it all fell out. It was refreshing to read a novel with a central romance that doesn't end with everything perfect and happy. I liked Cloaked in Danger all the more for the unexpected but believably bittersweet ending.