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The Emperor's Conspiracy by Michelle Diener
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The Emperor's Conspiracy (2012)

by Michelle Diener

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Warning - the ending of this book is very abrupt and doesn't completely resolve the romantic subplot of the story. For the sake of a review I will assume the author intends to bring back the characters in another book. Otherwise I would be annoyed at the ending of this one.

The mystery part of the novel was done well enough, but the best part of the book are the main characters and their stories (and backstories). Charlotte is a complex heroine who is (thank the lord) mature and worldly although fairly young in years. This is due to her childhood raised in the slums, orphaned and protected by a boy named Luke. Having taken a beating in prison, Luke has grown into a bitter, violent crime lord who is both physically and emotionally damaged. The one soft spot he has is his love for Charlotte, who he protects with a ferocity that sometimes frightens her. Rescued and taken in by a rich lady as an adolescent, Charlotte strives to keep a foot in both worlds, trying to remain loyal to Luke while attempting to please her guardian and friend, Lady Howe.

Unlike so many heroines of historical novels these days, Charlotte is not impulsive or silly, and if she believes something needs to be done she doesn't wait around for a man to take care of it, but takes action herself; not impulsively but with careful thought and planning. And I also loved the character of Luke, but then I have a soft spot for damaged anti-heroes. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
My thoughts:
It started so good..and yes it continued to be that good! :D

It was a nice mix of historical fiction, suspense, mystery and romance. Charlotte the heroine was no simpering miss of the ton. She used to live in the slum, daughter of a whore, worked as a chimney sweep but was saved by a nice lady and raised as her ward. While still be connected to the underworld. Oh yes I loved that premise at once.

In this story there is a mystery too. Gold smuggled out of England and a Lord who tries to figure out the plot. A Lord who become the romantic interested of our cool heroine. As he is not one of those silly Men of the ton who wants her dowry and are all talk. And it works, because they do not fall at once, they do not even like each other at once. It's a story that will take time.

A good mystery, evil guys, flirting and the underworld. Yes that other thing I liked. She has an old friend, Luke who is now a crime boss and it just brought something new and very fresh to it. A woman torn between two worlds, dividing loyalties and a plot that kept it going. It was a book that was hard to put down, easy to read and suddenly I had read it and wanted more.

Conclusion:
I truly enjoyed it ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
I guess I shouldn't have expected much since the Ebook was only $3.99 but it was not a bargain. The last 50 pages or so were absorbing but the book was too abrupt in the way it started. The story is sort of like Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series but a student version. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
One of the first things that struck me with this book was how it never really lets up with the story-telling and action. From one discovery to the next, the story moves at a brisk pace, leading the reader from one scene to the next with hardly a stop in between. I did like this for the most part as I was always eager to find out the next big surprise. Yet, there were times where I felt a bit overwhelmed. At times, so many people were introduced and just chucked into the story that I had to pause and try to remember where they came from. There were some really nice historical details, though, that bumped this story up in my opinion. Using real events for the impetuous to the story gave it some lovely added depth.

I did really like the dynamic between Edward and Charlotte. It was intense and very charged, yet sweet at the same time. I felt that Edward appreciated Charlotte for what she really was, a woman of two worlds who felt tied to both. I liked there weren't any of the cliched misunderstandings that a novel like this could have fallen prey to. Charlotte was very up front with her past from the very beginning, warning Edward's sister to the danger her sons were in. She wasn't afraid to expose her secret to accomplish a good deed, neither was she afraid to expose herself to Edward when it needed to be done. I felt that this added a very honest depth to their relationship and set a tone for mutual cooperation and trust.

While at times a bit overwhelmed from the sheer forward moment of the story, I felt this was a novel I could get lost in and love. The characters were wonderfully vivid, the historical details set the scene beautifully, and Edward's and Charlotte's relationship made me smile. Overall, a very well written novel set in Regency England. Very recommended. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
*slight spoilers ahead*
What a fabulous book! I haven't enjoyed historical fiction that much since... You know, I can't even remember.

Straight from the beginning this is non-stop action full of mystery and fantastic characterization. I think, the main heroine, Charlotte Raven is the one who made this book. Who owned this book.

She is pure kickass awesomeness. This is no wishy-washy simpering miss, who cries and thinks about her feelings way too much because she hasn't had anything else to worry about.

Charlotte grew up a chimney boy in the rookeries of London until at the age of twelve she stuck in the chimney of a noble but lonely lady and became her ward. Her arms are scarred, her mind is sharp and coldly rational, her best friend Luke grew up a psychotic crime lord of London area close to Mayfair. She can't let go of the friendship and she can't break his obsessive hold over her. Her admirers or people troubling her keep ending up dead and Charlotte learned to stay away from any sort of relationship until she saves Emma, another aristocratic lady from her husband's machinations and meets her handsome brother.

Edward is an agent of the Crown in the middle of an investigation of a huge conspiracy involving members of the ton. Emma's new friend with her detached ways and sharp mind surprises him and he decides to find out more about her which puts him on Luke's radar.

Now both Charlotte and Edward has to work on not getting him killed by her overprotective ex-lover and end up unravelling the mysterious conspiracy together.

Charlotte's mind was a fascinating and dark place. She is a ruthless and very practical woman, she stands her ground in the rookeries against Luke's heavy handedness and in the middle of a Society ball. She is quick and knows how manipulate situation towards her advantage, she doesn't hesitate to strike, to act, and frankly I read about her with growing sense of admiration.

Luke is just as amazing, and I love a bit of genuine psychotic character in fiction. All the more interesting to see what makes them tick, right? You end up feeling the same way as Charlotte about him - afraid, exhilarated and deeply sympathetic.

Overall, this book flows really well and reads in one go, you live and breathe it until it ends. There is no happy ending, instead the author makes you wonder what would happen next with the characters. However, I didn't find it irritating and only hope that there will be a next book ahead.

Highly recommended.
( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
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'What seems to be the matter, Mr Ashcroft?' Catherine, Lady Howe, watched as Ashcroft reversed out of the fireplace, where he'd built a little pile of kindling.
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Chance led to Charlotte Raven's transformation from chimney sweep to wealthy, educated noblewoman, but she still walks a delicate tightrope between two worlds, unable to turn her back on the ruthless crime lord who was once her childhood protector. When Lord Edward Durnham is tapped to solve the mystery of England's rapidly disappearing gold, his search leads him to the stews of London, and Charlotte becomes his intriguing guide to the city's dark, forbidding underworld. But as her involvement brings Charlotte to the attention of men who have no qualms about who they hurt, and as Edward forges a grudging alliance with the dangerous ghosts of Charlotte's former life, she faces a choice: to continue living in limbo, or to close the door on the past and risk her heart and her happiness on an unpredictable future.… (more)

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