Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

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When a girl is murdered at a factory in one of London’s rookeries, Sergeant Thaddeus Knight of the Metropolitan Police comes in to investigate. But it’s not just the factory owners that Thaddeus wants information on–the devilishly intriguing Poppy O’Reilly is a puzzle he’d like nothing more than to solve. Protecting her young daughter is the most important thing to Poppy, and Thaddeus threatens the false identity she’s carefully constructed. The last thing she should do is allow Thaddeus close to her family, yet she can’t stay away from him. With danger around the corner, will the secrets of a scarlet woman lead to their undoing?

Publisher and Release Date: Quillfire Publishing, September 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, Industrial Revolution
Genre: Historical Romance with mystery elements
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Susan

Secrets in Scarlet is a story that readers can fall in love with instantly. Its hero, Sergeant Thaddeus Knight (who is aptly named), is the heroine’s champion, a champion of the innocent in particular the heroine, Poppy O’Reilly’s daughter, and a champion of the wrongfully accused specifically Poppy’s brother Daniel. A romantic historical hero in every sense of the label, Knight makes audiences believe in the goodness of human nature.

A fascinating tale that is very well-written with a cast of believable characters, Secrets in Scarlet provides a unique perspective on Regency England, addressing the dismal conditions of London’s rookeries, the unconscionable oppression imposed on factory workers, and the lucrative prospects of engaging in criminal activities such as coin clipping, counterfeiting, and trafficking/fencing goods.

Depicting England’s underprivileged is a challenge, requiring the author to give audiences a grasp of guttersnipe and the cockney lingo, which is something Ms Monroe manages admirably.

She shows not only a keen understanding of Regency England’s disadvantaged and neglected but also of the atmosphere emerging during the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. The intricate details about weaving textiles and fabrics and using looms are written intelligently, dotted with historical facts and interspersed with interesting dialogue and narration that enables the reader to observe the situation first-hand. The story is well paced with perceptive annotations so audiences can keep up with the evolving stages of the plot, which entails a murder mystery and the amorous feelings blossoming between Thaddeus and Poppy.

The story is written from the point of view of the un-affluent, projecting a sympathy for their hardship and struggles which touches a sensitive chord in readers. It’s a cheerful moment when Poppy and Thaddeus find their way to each other amidst obstacles such as the lies which Poppy espouses to safeguard her family and Thaddeus’ insecurities which deny him from believing he’s an honorable man deserving of a woman who loves him. Secrets in Scarlet is a moving love story that depicts happiness flourishing among the deprived of Regency England. It’s refreshing to see that happiness isn’t exclusive to England’s privileged aristocracy, and the author makes such an ideal seem attainable in this time period.

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