Book title: Tangled Webs
Author: Lee Bross
Series: Tangled Webs, #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: June 2015
Format: Egalley, 304 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney Hyperion!
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, an infamous thief who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and its most elite 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 Grae Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, 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 started off with so much potential! Historical fiction and blackmail? I was totally sold. Sadly, I was very disappointed. The book started off strongly but totally fizzled, for me, at least, early on. I’ll get to the two main reasons why, but first let me give you a summary of what the book is about:
Tangled Webs follows a girl named Arista who is a notorious middleman (middlewoman?) when it comes to dealing in secrets. She’s known in London high society as Lady A, a blackmailer — a spider — who works for a wretched man called Bones. Arista’s life is not her own, but when crap hits the fan and she switches her alliance to a man called Wild, she starts scheming to buy herself a new life somewhere far away from the London scene. Sounds fabulous, right?
Well. At one ball she attends as Lady A, she meets a young man named Grae. And it’s love at first sight. I am not even kidding. Like, oh my lord, she’s infatuated and can’t stop thinking of him and when she might see him again. When they cross paths a second time, he admits he feels the exact same way. Circumstances bring them together, and then it’s all sappy luuuuuurve between them. I know relationships moved a lot faster back in the day, but cripes, this was one of the most severe cases of insta-love I have ever read about!
Also, hey-oh, there’s kind of a love triangle. It’s not a very strong one, as Arista’s friend/bodyguard Nic is pretty much absent for most of the story. Nic’s whereabouts, although a mystery to Arista, were very clear to me and totally unsurprising when revealed later on. And while Nic was actually a more interesting character than Grae, I knew from the get-go that Nic was the loser in the triangle. So the love triangle wasn’t that bad. It was just the complete insta-love between Arista and Grae that drove me up the wall.
Since the whirlwind romance takes center stage for the entire middle of the book… the plot pretty much flies out the window for that section. Arista talks about how she’s going to take action, but she doesn’t ever, really. And then she’s just having a lovely time hanging out with Grae and making friends with his sister. La-di-da… Also, almost all blackmailing being done up until then and during this time was boring, to be honest. And Arista was just the middleman, so any cool political aspects that could have been were not.
Bones and Wild were cliche and uninteresting. I liked Arista’s friend/maid Becky a lot, but none of the characters could really carry the story on their own when the plot disappeared for a considerable chunk of the book. Arista became a complete mush and made some epicly stupid decisions. Gone was the cool girl who boldly walked into parties as Lady A, who could wield a dagger, and who honestly didn’t give a crap about her clients as long as they played their part without any deviations.
The beginning and the end were pretty good, but most of the book was Arista being head over heels in love with Grae, and almost as much of the book was a tedious, slow trek to the plot’s finish line. Tangled Webs had so much potential and I was hoping it would be really good… but I found it was not. There are plenty of readers who have loved this book, though, so maybe you can get past the super-fast romance. Maybe I was overreacting in terms of the plot going on hold for a long while. I liked the historical setting and I liked the premise, but the book ultimately didn’t deliver what I had intended. ♦
So tell me…
Have you read Tangled Webs? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What was the last historical fiction book you read? How about a book featuring blackmail and secrets? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!