Blurb from Goodreads:
Bath, December 1812. With her wedding just weeks away, Lady Helen Wrexhall is staying with friends while preparations are finalised. But Helen’s focus is far from her forthcoming nuptials. Time is running out to find the Bath Deceiver, who holds vital information that the Dark Days Club will need if they are to stand any chance of defeating their unknown foe, the Grand Deceiver.
Helen knows that much of this essential information is also locked away in her own mind from when she absorbed the power of the Ligatus. She and her mentor, Lord Carlston, form the two halves of the Grand Reclaimer, and they must find a way to retrieve the information in time so that they can use their bond to fight the Grand Deceiver. Yet the very power and knowledge that Helen possesses is creating a rift in her mind and threatening to destroy her.
As Helen tries desperately to juggle the demands of her double life and resist her feelings for Carlston, an old enemy arrives in Bath bringing death and destruction. The final confrontation between the Grand Deceiver and the Grand Reclaimer is set in motion, and Lady Helen’s story races towards a shocking conclusion full of passion, betrayal and heartbreak.
The Dark Days Club was a great read. The Dark Days Pact, even greater. That one left me on a high. The chemistry between the characters was remarkably strong. The mystery tugged at my curiosity. The tension was thicker. Everything was perfectly set up for an epic conclusion. Sad to say, The Dark Days Deceit is far from epic. While it does have some strong moments, it didn’t quite surpass—or even reach—the bar set by the previous books.
Goodman’s exquisite attention to the period is in full display in this book. She did an excellent job taking readers into a time where women are boxed in by the society’s moral standards and strictures. However, Goodman put a little too much focus on showing us what life is like for a woman in 1812. Oh the balls they should attend, the kind of meals they should serve, the gowns they should wear, the rules they shouldn’t break. It felt like there was too much talk about ball gowns and too little of everything that has kept me engaged from the first two installments, making this the slowest book in the series.
Helen’s character is notably weaker here compared to the Helen that I cheered for in the second book. It’s like someone pressed a button and the smart and dedicated Reclaimer in Helen suddenly stepped back to give way to a Helen who worries about wedding preparations and society’s judgments. While that’s a bit annoying, it’s also understandable. She is torn between doing the duties expected from her by The Dark Days Club and meeting the society’s expectations of her as a woman of influence. And that’s no easy situation.
“Love is a leap of faith. A leap that not only takes you towards the person you love but also towards the truth of yourself. Whom you love and how you love them will tell you more about yourself than anything else in this world.”
The romance—which was what I’m here for—was utterly disappointing. I love a barely there romance that keeps you strongly invested anyway. But after two installments of slow burning romance—with Carlston and Helen trying to keep their feelings to themselves this whole time—I wanted a stunning payoff. I want more than just sparks. I want a bonfire! Instead we get a dull love story with boring dialogues. RIP to the genuine connection between Helen and Carlston because it’s totally gone.
The twists were supposed to be massive but really it was so predictable. The way the obstacles were dealt with—like Lady Elise’s claim to Carlston, Helen’s engagement to Selburn, the Grand Deceiver’s identity—is so unsatisfying. Even the characters’ lack of concrete knowledge about the Grand Deceiver is lamely solved. Every time there’s a Grand Deceiver puzzle someone from the team would step up and take a wild guess about what’s happening—and they always guess right. How convenient.
The ending lacked force and emotion. It’s nice to see the characters finally safe and with a newfound chance to happiness. But my reaction to it was more like “That’s it?” rather than “Whew!”
Overall, The Dark Days Deceit is still a decent conclusion to this series although it certainly didn’t go the way I expected it. There wasn’t as much fire as I hoped. And it didn’t quite deliver the anticipated thrill. But if you’re here for Goodman’s lush details of Regency England and the lives of those who lived in it, you’re in for a treat.