Gently bred Emma Chadwick always assumed she’d live and die the daughter of a gentleman. But when her father’s death reveals a world of staggering debt and dangerous moneylenders, she must risk her good name and put her talent for mathematics to use, taking a position as bookkeeper at London’s most notorious gambling hell. Surrounded by vice and corruption on all sides, it is imperative no one discovers Emma’s shameful secret or her reputation-and her life-will be ruined.
But Roderick Bentley, the hell’s sinfully wealthy owner, awakens a hunger Emma cannot deny. Drawn deep into an underworld of high stakes gambling and reckless overindulgence, she soon discovers that in order to win the love of a ruthless scoundrel, she will have to play the game…and give in to the pleasure of falling from grace.
Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, April 2016
Time and Setting: Regency London
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
The theme of the strong and capable woman who doggedly shoulders the world without help from anyone (but who also secretly longs to let go and be taken care of sometimes) is a common one in historical romance. But in Luck is No Lady, Amy Sandas creates an engaging and beautifully written Regency era romance that is original, fresh, and quietly introspective.
Emma Chadwick is the devoted and protective eldest sister of three, helping her two unmarried siblings navigate the intricate expectations of ton society to find a respectable and fortunate spouse. She is very smart, responsible, and thrifty, picking up the pieces of her late, profligate father’s trail of gambling debts after years of caring for her sick mother. She is also sort of a martyr, as she keeps this information from her sisters instead of enlisting their assistance. They are young but they are far from stupid and selfish.
When Emma encounters Roderick Bentley, the charismatic, illegitimate owner of a London gambling hell, in a sexually charged accidental first meet, her world is overturned in many ways that challenge her firm compass and her steadfast heart and reputation.
With his good looks and caring nature, Roderick makes Emma want to be reckless and spontaneous for the first time in her twenty-five years. Indeed, she has spent her entire life caring for others and now dodges a threatening man who is menacingly insistent she repay her father’s debts. Emma wants and needs nothing more than a break from her rigid and exhausting responsibility and duty.
I really like how Emma, though she hears unsavory rumors about Roderick, chooses her own path and decides to follow her own heart as she gets to know the real man behind the reputation. She sees his kindness, his protectiveness and genuine assistance to others first hand, making her fall deeply in love with him.
Ms. Sandas creates two protagonists, neither of whom is what they at first seem to be. Emma circles the ton life of gentility, but desperate circumstances force her to make decisions that, should they be revealed, would be deleterious for her and her family’s reputation. And Roderick, whose bastardy mars him in the eyes of society, owns a very successful and reputable gambling establishment, takes care of his employees and those he cares about.
The love story between Emma and Roderick grows at a leisurely but sizzling pace as they circle their attraction to each other. Their romance feels very adult and deliberate; yes, they are very attracted to each other, but there is also a great respect and admiration between them that is evident on the page.
Amy Sandas first caught my attention last year with her delightful, sparkling, and witty novella, Relentless Lord. Her voice and writing style are clear and readable, and her stories unique and entertaining. She creates likeable, smart, and sympathetic characters, puts them in realistic situations, and the twists and turns feel smooth and natural.
There are some loose and intriguing threads of more stories to come for Emma’s sisters Lily and Portia that (hopefully) will turn into more love stories in this new Fallen Ladies series. And Emma’s enchanting but unobservant chaperone, her aunt Angelique, is a charming older woman who teaches Emma some lessons about life.
If you enjoy an intelligent and grounded heroine and a self-made hero with a kind heart, you will love Luck is No Lady.