Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 23, 2015
Series: Tangled Webs #1
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, contemporary, mystery
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
Reading Challenges: Booking Through Summer, COYER Scavenger Hunt
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?
Tangled Webs is one of those books where it was love at first glance. As soon as I saw the cover I fell in love. (side note: this is a beautifully designed book. Each of the chapters even has black and white lace designs on the pages. A wonderfully intricate touch, I thought.) I knew I wanted to read it. And then as soon as I saw the summary, and found out that Tangled Webs was about a blackmailer in historical London, called Lady A who collected secrets, I was even more excited! How amazingly cool does that sound? And then the plot thickens. When I finished Tangled Webs, I liked it and I thought it ended in a good place for a standalone. But then I went on goodreads and saw that it is the first in the Tangled Webs series. Whaaa? Now I am very intrigued to see where Lee Bross is going to take the next installment. I honestly thought it was wrapped up as a standalone, but I am interested to see what is going to happen next. My mind is already spinning with possibilities.
Arista is the mysterious Lady A. I really liked Arista. She is a survivor, but her years of fending for herself didn’t make her overly hard and jaded. Sure, she was distrustful, but then again she is a blackmailer- so I guess it goes hand in hand with her business. But she wasn’t corrupted to her core. She is still a good person, and I think Lee Bross does a great job of showing Arista’s softer side through her interactions with her friend Becky. I loved how protective Becky and Arista were of each other. I also really enjoyed Arista’s blooming friendship with Sophia. It was such a surprising treat that Sophia took Arista to the salons to see Voltaire. That was a great enlightenment element woven into the story. I hope we get to see more bits of history in the next book.
There were a couple of little things that I wish I had seen more of in Tangled Webs. Not really things I wanted done differently, because I rather enjoyed Lee’s writing and storytelling, but some elements I wanted to see more of. Like the secrets Lady A traded in, for example. I wanted to know what the actual secrets were. We got to know one about the first exchange she had and then we got to find out one at the end of the book, but other than those two there weren’t any other big (or even little) secret reveals about her “customers”. I also wanted to see more romantic development between Arista and Grae. I love Grae to pieces, but it was basically instant infatuation between him and Arista. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of them together, and I really liked their shared passion of travel and the sea, but I thought there was a really great opportunity for some building blocks to be laid between the two of them when Arista found herself staying with Grae’s father and family by happenstance. We didn’t really get that. I just saw Grae totally besotted with Arista from start to finish.
Overall, Tangled Webs was a very good read. I loved the setting and the characters and the plotline was different than so many of the books I have been reading lately. Very refreshing. And while I do wish we got to see more in the way of slow build romantic development between Grae and Arista, as well as more secrets that Lady A collected, I think that these things will resolve themselves in the next book. I can’t wait to see what Lee Bross has for us next.
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