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A Lady's Formula for Love

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What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental. Lady Violet Hughes is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England's most brilliant fem What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental. Lady Violet Hughes is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England's most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland. Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally. When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet's laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test—and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.


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What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental. Lady Violet Hughes is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England's most brilliant fem What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental. Lady Violet Hughes is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England's most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland. Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally. When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet's laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test—and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.

30 review for A Lady's Formula for Love

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Whaaat?? I cannot stop myself, I’m singing: “And Iiiiiiiiiii wiilllll alwaysss looooveee youuuuu!” And you know what my husband dearest said after hearing my performance make Whitney Houston turn in her grave and give a horrible ear bleeding to Dolly Parton, he just told me: “Please don’t!” and he kept on watching “Hanting of Bly Manor” because he still thinks I’m the actress who plays the woman with no face! Anyways, I truly loved this smart, entertaining blend of historical fiction and romanc Whaaat?? I cannot stop myself, I’m singing: “And Iiiiiiiiiii wiilllll alwaysss looooveee youuuuu!” And you know what my husband dearest said after hearing my performance make Whitney Houston turn in her grave and give a horrible ear bleeding to Dolly Parton, he just told me: “Please don’t!” and he kept on watching “Hanting of Bly Manor” because he still thinks I’m the actress who plays the woman with no face! Anyways, I truly loved this smart, entertaining blend of historical fiction and romance. This is Victorian Bodyguard (instead of Mr. Costner, Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy works so much better for the story’s sake) meets Austen novels! Both of the MCs are adorable thankfully there was nothing irritating or punch-worthy about their characterizations and plot was interesting, intriguing. After looking at the cover, it gives you books of Evie Dunmore vibes which increases your excitement levels! Let’s take a look at the storyline to get a better idea: The story takes place at early 19th century of England. Lady Violet after losing her husband, she finds the best secret place to organize her new club meetings: a group of women who are passionate for scientific discoveries, pursuing their dreams by working on different formulas at their lab time. Lady Violet also keeps a big secret that she’s working for the crown! But as soon as her stepson who is at the same age with her becomes a threat for her secret mission who is she gonna call? Nope, not Bill Murray. She hired a charming protector/ guard / soldier Arthur Kneland. You may guess what could happen as Lady Violet and Arthur starts spending so much quality time: it gets smoking hotter than August in Nevada and undeniable desire conquers their hearts. I found the premise so creative and unique but I have some problems about the obstacles between MCs! The angst part is a little exaggerated. I didn’t see the reason so credible explains why they cannot be together. But I enjoyed the ending and supporting characters were so much likable. Eventually I cut my points but I’m still rounding up 3.5 stars to 4 promising, enjoyable, clever, original, powerful women characters stars! Yes, it’s such a great start as a debut and I’d be pleased to read the upcoming works of Ms. Everett. Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this incredible arc copy with me in exchange my honest review. blog instagram facebook twitter

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Liese

    Thank you to the author for this free review copy—all opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by this! ALERT! ALERT! Bodyguard Romance. STEM Heroine. Corsets. Kisses. Need I say more?? “What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental.” Friends. Historical Romance Lovers. Lend me Thank you to the author for this free review copy—all opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by this! ALERT! ALERT! Bodyguard Romance. STEM Heroine. Corsets. Kisses. Need I say more?? “What is a Victorian lady's formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it's elemental.” Friends. Historical Romance Lovers. Lend me your ears. A LADY’S FORMULA FOR LOVE’s prose hits the same glorious notes as Lisa Kleypas & my queen Tessa Dare—it is *everything* I want in Historical Romance—banter, wit, sensuality in spades & strong female friendship. Add in a dash of suspense, sciencey geekdom & a hot, gruff SCOTTISH bodyguard & I’m in raptures.  Violet and Arthur's chemistry is palpable, their backstories tender, vulnerable, and compelling; I loved how they slowly opened up to each other and found solace in their relationship as they never had with anyone else. Bonus? They’re mature. They’re relatable. And the sexual tension is diiiivine. I cannot recommend this book enough. “You have taught me much about the world, but your most important lesson was about the heart. Home is where I love. Not where I live. [...] You are home.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Minerva Spencer

    Everett's debut, A LADY'S FORMULA FOR LOVE, is smart, sassy, sexy, and sweet. If you demand smart characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and sharp wit in your historical romance, this is the book for you. Her hero (yay! a common man, for a change of pace) is hella swoony and you'll be so envious of the heroine's secret society of lady scientists that you'll want to start your own club. If I had to compare this to a movie, I'd say it's THE BODYGUARD meets PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Mr. Darcy, with his brood Everett's debut, A LADY'S FORMULA FOR LOVE, is smart, sassy, sexy, and sweet. If you demand smart characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and sharp wit in your historical romance, this is the book for you. Her hero (yay! a common man, for a change of pace) is hella swoony and you'll be so envious of the heroine's secret society of lady scientists that you'll want to start your own club. If I had to compare this to a movie, I'd say it's THE BODYGUARD meets PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Mr. Darcy, with his brooding sexiness, doesn't have a damned thing on Arthur Kneland. This book is an all-around winner.

  4. 4 out of 5

    menna

    DID SOMEONE SAY A HISTORICAL BODYGUARD ROMANCE???

  5. 5 out of 5

    Felicia Grossman

    This is a fantastic book. The premise is incredibly fun, widowed Violet has a secret club for other women to pursue their scientific passions. However, when it appears that her life is threatened, her stepson (who is basically her age, but it totally isn't weird, I promise) hires decorated soldier/royal protector/kind of assassin Arthur to protect her. Obviously they fall in love and there's a fun mystery element and it's a delicious romance and there are fun side characters and lots of fabulous This is a fantastic book. The premise is incredibly fun, widowed Violet has a secret club for other women to pursue their scientific passions. However, when it appears that her life is threatened, her stepson (who is basically her age, but it totally isn't weird, I promise) hires decorated soldier/royal protector/kind of assassin Arthur to protect her. Obviously they fall in love and there's a fun mystery element and it's a delicious romance and there are fun side characters and lots of fabulous friendships but this book is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. There is so much more awareness of the broader world of early 19th century England and the murkiness of the class and political systems, even when the characters have the best intentions. No one in this book gets a free ride and everyone is poked and challenged about their views of the world and their relationships to others and society in ways that are nuances and really and of so very smart. It really is fabulous debut filled with danger, imperfect but fierce found-family, and the love story of two stubborn protectors, A Lady's Formula for Love is everything a romance reader who likes to ponder as well as cheer could want. And I recommend it whole-heartedly.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mazey Eddings

    If the works of Tessa Dare and Lisa Kleypas had a lovechild daughter that was unapologetically feminist and in STEM, it would be this book. Holy gawd above I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It is single-handedly one of my favorite reads of the year. This book has it all: hilarious shenanigans, whip-smart heroines, A BROODY GRUNTING EMOTIONALLY CONSTIPATED HERO, and sexual tension for daysssssss. Seriously ya’ll, Elizabeth packs the steam with this one. I really can’t say enough about this incredible bo If the works of Tessa Dare and Lisa Kleypas had a lovechild daughter that was unapologetically feminist and in STEM, it would be this book. Holy gawd above I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It is single-handedly one of my favorite reads of the year. This book has it all: hilarious shenanigans, whip-smart heroines, A BROODY GRUNTING EMOTIONALLY CONSTIPATED HERO, and sexual tension for daysssssss. Seriously ya’ll, Elizabeth packs the steam with this one. I really can’t say enough about this incredible book. The story follows Violet, a widow scientist that has created a secret society for other women scientists, and Arthur, a grumpy Scottish bodyguard that has spent 20 years exiling his feelings and living unattached. The two are dynamite. This book is also so special for its incredible portrayals of consent, contraception, trans rights, and conquering the patriarchy. I busted out laughing. I actually cried. I had butterflies and and a knotted stomach and felt so many different emotions through this beautiful story. This is the kind of book that makes my heart soar as a reader, and makes me hungry to expand my craft as a writer. I’m not doing justice to this story with this jumbled review but trust me, Go forth and pre-order this gem, you won’t want to miss it. 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆/5

  7. 5 out of 5

    Blackjack

    This was one book that I had been looking forward to reading, and so it was especially disappointing that it fell so flat with me. I'm ready to move on and won't write a lengthy review except to note a few significant flaws for me. The first book in a series about women scientists in the 19th century only promotes feminism at a surface level. The heroine is quite reliant on a male bodyguard to protect her, and that is a traditional trope not really examined here. Female friendship as a gesture t This was one book that I had been looking forward to reading, and so it was especially disappointing that it fell so flat with me. I'm ready to move on and won't write a lengthy review except to note a few significant flaws for me. The first book in a series about women scientists in the 19th century only promotes feminism at a surface level. The heroine is quite reliant on a male bodyguard to protect her, and that is a traditional trope not really examined here. Female friendship as a gesture to "sisterhood" is on the surface only. I marked the number of times when rival women are referred to in misogynistic terms like "pecking hens" and "biddies." Yes, women are not always supportive of feminism, but the book doesn't examine ways for women to reach out to each other and understand competing views, such as why some women align themselves with patriarchy and fight hard for traditional spheres like motherhood and domesticity. This book on the surface is about the iconoclastic women who thumbed their noses at patriarchy and fought for their right to be intellectuals in male-dominated fields, but underneath that blurb is nothing really more than a traditional romance of male chivalry and the women who depend upon it. I felt disappointed too that such a supposedly brilliant woman as Violet cannot remember to eat or sleep and is constantly putting herself in danger. Arthur certainly has his work cut out for him. Of note too is the instant love and attraction both Violet and Arthur feel for each other. I knew in the first pages when Arthur throws his body on top of Violet and they immediately discover that special bond that this book was going to be a miss for me. The instant love and physical attraction they feel is never more than a prop to sustain a romance with zero character development. Also, too many characters populate this confusing story that serves as a opener for a new series. Arthur had potential to be interesting and I enjoyed his scenes. Alas, this is a wallpapery historical with superficial characters, and I'm happy to move on.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    3.5 stars -- I am always here for women in STEM in a historical and this books definitely delivered that character type & the accompanying tropes really nicely. Add in a bodyguard/his client trope? Love it. The parts of this book I found most successful were the characters and the overall writing-- there's a nice wit throughout and I really enjoyed the dynamic with Violet & Arthur. I thought the plot was a little messy, so that dinged things down a bit, but this was a really fun take on a Victor 3.5 stars -- I am always here for women in STEM in a historical and this books definitely delivered that character type & the accompanying tropes really nicely. Add in a bodyguard/his client trope? Love it. The parts of this book I found most successful were the characters and the overall writing-- there's a nice wit throughout and I really enjoyed the dynamic with Violet & Arthur. I thought the plot was a little messy, so that dinged things down a bit, but this was a really fun take on a Victorian historical that I would recommend!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanine Englert

    A LADY’S FORMULA FOR LOVE is a sparkling debut novel by Elizabeth Everett full of humor, heart, and sizzling romance. It’s a unique historical romcom that will have you laughing out loud on one page and your eyes brimming with tears on the next. The connection between the smart, vulnerable scientist Violet and her reserved, wounded bodyguard Arthur is palpable from their first moment together on the page, and you cannot help but cheer on their romance and their gentle rebuilding of themselves as A LADY’S FORMULA FOR LOVE is a sparkling debut novel by Elizabeth Everett full of humor, heart, and sizzling romance. It’s a unique historical romcom that will have you laughing out loud on one page and your eyes brimming with tears on the next. The connection between the smart, vulnerable scientist Violet and her reserved, wounded bodyguard Arthur is palpable from their first moment together on the page, and you cannot help but cheer on their romance and their gentle rebuilding of themselves as the story progresses. Set in London in the early Victorian era, A LADY’S FORMULA FOR LOVE shares the world of female scientists and women seeking comradery and support in their intellectual pursuits while still managing the constraints of society. Violet’s circle of female scientists are lovable, endearing, and brilliant, and Arthur’s intrusion into her controlled world as her new bodyguard helps her realize the other risks of the heart that she hasn’t allowed herself to take. Make room on your keeper shelf for this gem of a historical romance. I loved every page, and I cannot wait to read the next in her Secret Scientists of London Series!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    This was just delightful! A sweet romance with a wonderful heroine, compelling and hilarious supporting characters, and a all-too-relatable villain!

  11. 4 out of 5

    nick (the infinite limits of love)

    I rediscovered my love for historical romance back in December when I decided to take a break from review copies and went back to re-reading some of my comfort reads. I'm not sure what it is about this particular subgenre that draws to me but some of my all-time favorite novels are historical romances. So I came into the new year excited about the prospect of reading new historical romances, especially debuts. One such book I was looking forward to was A Lady's Formula for Love. Set in Victorian I rediscovered my love for historical romance back in December when I decided to take a break from review copies and went back to re-reading some of my comfort reads. I'm not sure what it is about this particular subgenre that draws to me but some of my all-time favorite novels are historical romances. So I came into the new year excited about the prospect of reading new historical romances, especially debuts. One such book I was looking forward to was A Lady's Formula for Love. Set in Victorian London, the book focuses on Lady Violet, a young widow who has founded a secret society for women who wish to pursue scientific endeavors. This secret club of hers is not only a gathering for women of various scientific interests and backgrounds but also holds laboratories of all kinds. As a STEM girl who spent quite a bit of time in labs, this delighted me. Though several women significant roles in the progress of science back in the day, they were significant barriers to their progress, namely the patriarchy. I haven't read many historical books with heroines who are actively practicing science so I was excited about the prospect here. Violet was the perfect heroine to open up this series. She was this eccentric, witty, and highly intelligent woman who was clearly passionate about the work she was doing. Ofen, she would disregard her own safety, but it was clear that this scientific society of hers was her priority. It's always fun for me to read about characters who get totally nerdy about science, so I really enjoyed being inside Violet's head. Also, Violet was just plain likable, you know? She was genuinely kind to others and saw the good in people, so it was impossible not to like her as a protagonist. When it appears that Violet's life is in danger, her stepson hires Arthur, to be a bodyguard. Undeniably, sparks fly between the two as they forced to interact with each other. You all know how much I love a stoic, grumpy hero. Even better when they are broody, intense, and protective Scottish bodyguards. And Arthur is all of that. He has his reasons for being a rather solemn character, all stemming from the childhood trauma of having lost his family at a young age. He left Scotland so he could throw himself into work, but it was clear that he was still battling with his grief and guilt over the loss of his family. I loved watching Arthur trying to figure out the women in the scientific society. He was baffled by them and their love for explosion-inducing experiments, but he quickly grew attached to them and was never judgemental. As Arthur and Violet are brought into each other's circles, he tried his best to resist his attraction to her. After all, he was meant to be protecting and guarding her life. The chemistry between the two was hard to ignore, however. The romantic elements in A Lady's Formula for Love worked for me. There was a sweetness underlying the physical heat between the two. They were so gentle and soft around each other, but also brought all the steam in the bedroom scenes - exactly how I like my romances in books! A Lady's Formula for Love also had an underlying mystery thread that gave the book a sense of danger - as I mentioned, someone is trying to kill Violet and steal her work. I was left surprised and quite frankly, a little heartbroken, by the revelation of who was behind it all. I'm curious to see how Elizabeth Everett will handle this character in the future because it was definitely an interesting choice and their motives made sense. My only minor complaint about A Lady's Formula for Love would be that I initially had a hard time keeping track of the secondary cast. There were quite a few of them and my brain isn't always good with names. However, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the overall romantic arc and by the end, I did have a good grasp of the entire cast. I had a great time reading this fun romance debut and I'm looking forward to reading more from this series. If you're keen to try a new historical romance author, I'd encourage you to pick up A Lady's Formula for Love. Relationship disclosure: Elizabeth Everett and I are mutuals on social media. CWs: attempted murder, deaths from illness

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    DNF no rating I tried SO HARD to get engrossed in this book. I just can't go on forcing it anymore, I'm pulling my hair out! It had many elements that should have made the perfect formula for success. There was no big chemical reaction for me, just one big fizzle. Initially the idea of female scientists living in the beginning of the Victorian era with their own club was really intriguing. If you're familiar with my reviews, you know by now that I'm a sucker for nerdy/brainy heroines. Big brains DNF no rating I tried SO HARD to get engrossed in this book. I just can't go on forcing it anymore, I'm pulling my hair out! It had many elements that should have made the perfect formula for success. There was no big chemical reaction for me, just one big fizzle. Initially the idea of female scientists living in the beginning of the Victorian era with their own club was really intriguing. If you're familiar with my reviews, you know by now that I'm a sucker for nerdy/brainy heroines. Big brains are where it's at, let's celebrate intelligence before appearance. However, there is a serious disconnect when it comes to these characters. I spent a lot of time reading things multiple times because I couldn't keep track of the various characters. Not being able to easily distinguish between the women caused me to feel as if I was dragging my feet through quicksand. The characters felt unfocused, the plot felt unfocused, and the romance unfortunately suffered the same. I felt pulled in so many different directions with little emphasis or focus where there should have been strong development. For example, Violet and Arthur meet when he tackles her to safety during an explosion. He's an aloof man who doesn't like to get too close to people, and has little time to form attachments to women. Violet is a widow who did not have a happy marriage, and her experience has led her to have zero interest in romance or men in general. Despite that, from the moment their bodies touch as he tackles her, they're both feeling an overblown animal attraction that they can barely contain. It doesn't really seem in character for either of them to be so overcome by the sight and feel of each other's physical appearance. Honestly it would feel more organic if they grew attached to one another reluctantly rather than just their hormones. Based on their personality types, they would more likely need to gradually form an emotional attachment as they fight their feelings. Arthur had a typical bodyguard conflict-not wanting to get emotionally attached because it would distract him from protecting her. We would be told that he feels that he needs to keep things purely professional, then he would turn around in the next breath and passionately kiss her without a second thought. Are we to believe then, that the mysterious mistake from his past that made him fail to protect his client would be so easily forgotten so many times? I liked that he accepted her differences. In fact, he found her to be attractive because of those differences, not despite them. I really wasn't feeling much for these two as a couple though because there was so much going on that it detracted from what should have been the main focus. Everything from the mystery, to the romance, to the character development felt half-hearted instead of equally balanced. I kept pushing through because I was hoping that if I read long enough that I would get invested in the storyline. After getting to 65%, I was still feeling emotionless about what happened to the couple and forcing myself through it. Some books you just can't click with and I'm going ahead and admitting defeat. Many others will not have the same issues, so don't just take my word for it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Blacke

    This is not your grandma's historical romcom. I'm here for the feminism. I'm here for the ladies in STEM. I'm *here* for the *steamy* bodyguard romance. I'm here for the Victorian romcom. Between the expectations of Victorian society and the lingering scars of a ill-suited marriage, widowed Lady Violet has lost all sense of herself. She creates a safe space for her fellow women to learn and host their cutting-edge experiments, out of sight of the oppression of the day. But even as the center of a This is not your grandma's historical romcom. I'm here for the feminism. I'm here for the ladies in STEM. I'm *here* for the *steamy* bodyguard romance. I'm here for the Victorian romcom. Between the expectations of Victorian society and the lingering scars of a ill-suited marriage, widowed Lady Violet has lost all sense of herself. She creates a safe space for her fellow women to learn and host their cutting-edge experiments, out of sight of the oppression of the day. But even as the center of a secret society of brilliant women scientists, Violet can't find happiness until she learns to be her true self. The romcom plot is well-balanced and nicely paced, the characters are a delight, and the bodyguard is magnificent. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. You know what? I take that back bit about grandma back. You should totally buy a copy of A LADY'S FORMULA FOR LOVE for your grandma, too. She'll *love* this fun historical romcom, and so will you!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paige ♠

    Unfortunately, I did not end up finishing this book. I feel bad because it's clear the author put a lot of thought, research and hard work into this story, and I appreciate the attempt at empowering women in science, but I just did not like it. ❌ THE ROMANCE was too insta-lust from the start. There was no slow burn, no enemies to lovers, no friends to lovers... they basically just both wanted to bang from the first couple chapters ❌ THE TONE OF THE STORY was way too formal. It's like it tried too Unfortunately, I did not end up finishing this book. I feel bad because it's clear the author put a lot of thought, research and hard work into this story, and I appreciate the attempt at empowering women in science, but I just did not like it. ❌ THE ROMANCE was too insta-lust from the start. There was no slow burn, no enemies to lovers, no friends to lovers... they basically just both wanted to bang from the first couple chapters ❌ THE TONE OF THE STORY was way too formal. It's like it tried too hard to be "smart" by using big words and lots of scientific terms, which disrupted the flow of reading for me. Maybe it would be better if I was more familiar with chemistry, but I'm not, so a lot of the chemical compounds and stuff flew over my head ❌IT MISSED THE MARK in trying to empower women in science by making them feel too much like "mad scientists". Their experiments were constantly exploding or going wrong and they were made fun of and ostracized by society, which made it hard for me to relate to them and it just felt too extreme in one direction 🆗 THE SIDE STORY with the rebels seemed interesting, but not interesting enough to keep me reading the rest of the book. I wish there had been more proactive investigating by our characters but instead they were very reactive Overall, I just did not like this book, which is unfortunate because I had such high hopes. I majored in engineering and work in software/technology so it's always a treat to read about women in STEM... but this wasn't for me. I still hope others enjoy it and I think there's promise for the later books in the series if the author can make the characters and story a little more relatable

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    A Lady's Formula for Love is a fun, charming historical romance following a widow who runs a secret society for lady scientists, and a nearly retired counterassasin hired to protect her. I'm always a fan of historical romance with lady scientists and this one did not disappoint. It has a sweet, semi-forbidden love story but also addresses issues of the time in terms of class and gender, while maintaining a light touch. Lady Violet is a forgetful genius who gets absorbed in her work, sometimes fo A Lady's Formula for Love is a fun, charming historical romance following a widow who runs a secret society for lady scientists, and a nearly retired counterassasin hired to protect her. I'm always a fan of historical romance with lady scientists and this one did not disappoint. It has a sweet, semi-forbidden love story but also addresses issues of the time in terms of class and gender, while maintaining a light touch. Lady Violet is a forgetful genius who gets absorbed in her work, sometimes forgets to eat, and pays little attention to her clothing getting worn and out of fashion. She is kind to everyone, perhaps overly trusting, but has been hurt by the words of her deceased husband who made her feel unseemly for experiencing physical desire or for caring too much about her work. Arthur is reserved and keeps to himself- determined to keep his charges safe and never again let feelings get in the way. There is an immediate spark between him and Lady Violet, but she is in danger from political rebels because of her scientific work for the government. I won't say more, but I found this to be enjoyable, heart-warming, and funny at times, if a bit on the flowery side of romantic language near the end. Definitely worth a read! I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    What a shame! I really wanted to love this book. It was in the historical romance genre and had women scientists and inventors as the main subplot. "Any book with STEM as the occupation for a woman is a plus in my book!" - said the civil engineer specialist *cough, cough* But A Lady's Formula for Love didn't work for me. ✔️ The insta ‘lust’ was way too fast. ✔️ The ending was subpar and rushed. It felt like an afterthought. ✔️ The writing felted uneven and all over the place. The flow was not good in What a shame! I really wanted to love this book. It was in the historical romance genre and had women scientists and inventors as the main subplot. "Any book with STEM as the occupation for a woman is a plus in my book!" - said the civil engineer specialist *cough, cough* But A Lady's Formula for Love didn't work for me. ✔️ The insta ‘lust’ was way too fast. ✔️ The ending was subpar and rushed. It felt like an afterthought. ✔️ The writing felted uneven and all over the place. The flow was not good in this one. ✔️ And way too many characters to keep track of. And another thing that got my dander up was... All the smart and brilliant women in this book were fragile, brittle, had low self esteem and believed the worse about themselves. I think the woman servants believed in themselves more then the ladies did! Come on! I know that this was the 1700s and it was all about the patriarchy at this time, but I had hoped at least one woman had fire in her eyes, ice in her veins and her demons would not get the best of her. But alas, that was not the case. Sure, we get a happy ever ending and I did like Violet in the end, but did I like this book enough to continue the series? Not really. Next!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

    In my opinion the first few chapters of this book--which I assume were supposed to start off the action with a bang!--were kind of a mess. There were way too many characters, a flurry of activity, and so much going on, that I was just confused. After a bit everything seemed to calm down and I began to enjoy the story and the two main characters. But then again, after about half-way through, the book seemed to lose it's focus. I couldn't tell if the author was trying to give us clues to the "myst In my opinion the first few chapters of this book--which I assume were supposed to start off the action with a bang!--were kind of a mess. There were way too many characters, a flurry of activity, and so much going on, that I was just confused. After a bit everything seemed to calm down and I began to enjoy the story and the two main characters. But then again, after about half-way through, the book seemed to lose it's focus. I couldn't tell if the author was trying to give us clues to the "mystery" in a much too heavy-handed manner, or if things were already being set up for sequels, or what. The main conflicts between the two main characters were confusing, as well. I really didn't understand what the big deal was about why they couldn't be together. This book was just not for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    love love loved this book! smart, sexy, sweet...the characters are utterly charming and wonderful! I loved Violet so much and Arther - swoon! I want to be a member of Athena's Retreat! One of my favorite romances I've ever read and I am anxiously awaiting the 2nd book now! love love loved this book! smart, sexy, sweet...the characters are utterly charming and wonderful! I loved Violet so much and Arther - swoon! I want to be a member of Athena's Retreat! One of my favorite romances I've ever read and I am anxiously awaiting the 2nd book now!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Good dialogue.

  20. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Brilliant! Funny and more! The dark, earnest assassin and the lovely insecure widow with a genius for chemistry! Violet Hughes, Lady Greycliff, is developing an antidote to poison gas being used by a radical worker’s organization. The prime minister’s agent Arthur Kneland has been deployed as her body guard after a failed assassination attempt. Arthur’s idea of the widow, before he meets her it must be admitted, is way below par. He should have listened more closely to his employer, Lord Greycliff Brilliant! Funny and more! The dark, earnest assassin and the lovely insecure widow with a genius for chemistry! Violet Hughes, Lady Greycliff, is developing an antidote to poison gas being used by a radical worker’s organization. The prime minister’s agent Arthur Kneland has been deployed as her body guard after a failed assassination attempt. Arthur’s idea of the widow, before he meets her it must be admitted, is way below par. He should have listened more closely to his employer, Lord Greycliff, Violet’s stepson when he muttered,“Funny how chaos seems to follow behind certain women.” Arthur is about to get the surprise of his life. Violet is one of the founders of Athena’s Retreat, a salon that fronts for a secret society allowing women scientists to pursue their chosen areas of investigation away from the disapproving society of the times. I’m not sure if the developing relationship between Arthur and Violet is a slow smouldering burn or attraction at first sight. After all Violet did reflect at their torrid first meeting, that Arthur’s “eyes were what told Violet she would be safe, no matter what.” As for Arthur I love his acceptance and delight in Violet. To him “something happened when Violet explained a scientific theory. She glowed. Her stained, work-worn hands flew up with a sudden grace, illustrating a point as if pulling the knowledge from the air. What a beautiful sight, watching her revel in imparting secrets of how the world worked.” This has it all! A Victorian mystery romance that delights! I’m looking forward to more from Everett! A Berkeley Group ARC via NetGalley Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Readaholic Book Reviews

    Widowed Lady Violet Hughes is on a top secret mission for the Crown. But as with all top secret missions, her life may very well be in danger. Soon Violet is under the protection of bodyguard Arthur Kneland. Arthur takes his duties very seriously. Rule #1 for Arthur is to never get too close to the person he is supposed to be protecting. The growing attraction between Arthur and Violet has him concerned. Violet's life is potentially in danger and Arthur needs to keep a clear head and his wits ab Widowed Lady Violet Hughes is on a top secret mission for the Crown. But as with all top secret missions, her life may very well be in danger. Soon Violet is under the protection of bodyguard Arthur Kneland. Arthur takes his duties very seriously. Rule #1 for Arthur is to never get too close to the person he is supposed to be protecting. The growing attraction between Arthur and Violet has him concerned. Violet's life is potentially in danger and Arthur needs to keep a clear head and his wits about him if he is to protect her. Will his sense of duty prevent Arthur and Violet from becoming more than a working relationship? I loved A Lady's Formula for Love! This book had the perfect amount of humor, mystery and such a sweet and sexy romance between Arthur and Violet. I will admit that I haven't read a lot of bodyguard romances, but...sigh, this one was so good. Grumpy + sunshine gets me every time and Arthur was such a grump (but I still loved him). I loved his dry wit, but also how much love he has to give. If Arthur is grumpy then Violet is definitely the epitome of sunshine. Not only does she have an amazing refuge for women scientists to reside in, but she loves them all equally. She is smart and witty, but is fighting her own doubts and insecurities. These two together brought out the best in one another and their romance was equally swoony. Although A Lady's Formula for Love was my first book by Elizabeth Everett, I already can't wait for the next book in the series to come out! Pick up A Lady's Formula for Love if your'e looking for a romance featuring women in STEM, a bit of mystery and a swoony, steamy romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: The Secret Scientists of London #1 Publication Date: 2/9/21 Number of Pages: 336 Elizabeth Everett’s debut novel is a delightfully witty, humorous, romantic, and exciting story filled with lovable characters who will quickly capture your heart. The story is excellently crafted and well-plotted without being predictable. After her husband died, Lady Violet Hughes was a shadow of the vibrant, fun-loving, brilliant young lady she had been before her marriage. After years of abuse to her self- Series: The Secret Scientists of London #1 Publication Date: 2/9/21 Number of Pages: 336 Elizabeth Everett’s debut novel is a delightfully witty, humorous, romantic, and exciting story filled with lovable characters who will quickly capture your heart. The story is excellently crafted and well-plotted without being predictable. After her husband died, Lady Violet Hughes was a shadow of the vibrant, fun-loving, brilliant young lady she had been before her marriage. After years of abuse to her self-esteem, she had shrunk into herself. Her dream now that she’s a widow has been to create a retreat, Athena’s Retreat, where other women like herself can be themselves – without the censure of unsupportive spouses and family. These are all brilliant ladies who engage in studies in every scientific field imaginable – botany, chemistry, paleontology, biology – just to name a few. Lady Violet has sunk a considerable chunk of her fortune into creating that retreat and now she needs to gain at least a moderate acceptance from the ton in order to make it acceptable for ladies to become members. Of course, the public face of Athena’s Retreat will be benign and will not show the projects and experiments that are carried on in the non-public areas. Arthur Kneland is an ultra-elite bodyguard who has just retired from a special branch of the Queen’s service. He has guarded and protected everybody from foreign despots to villains to – well, you name it – all in the name of the Crown. He’s been stabbed, shot, and almost anything else and he is still mostly in one piece and retiring. He’s only had one failure in his service to the Crown and that was his very first case as a very green 18-year-old. That case still haunts him and caused him to exile himself from England for twenty years. Now, he’s back and looking to find a farm to call home – right after he takes this one private case for a good friend – Lord Greycliff. Grey wants him to provide protection for his stepmother, Lady Violet Hughes, while she is working on a very important project for the Crown. Arthur certainly has his work cut out for him when he finds himself surrounded by quirky, brilliant, secretive ladies who don’t quite trust him – or anyone else for that matter. Their explosive experiments cause him much alarm – especially when there are explosions happening that are far from benign. Lady Violet will not believe that one of her ladies could be involved in a plot against her and therefore is always putting herself in danger. Arthur himself is in danger as well – at least his heart is. Despite his considerable strength of will, he finds himself more and more drawn to Lady Violet – and she appears to be drawn to him as well. Can a Scottish farmer's son and an English lady find their HEA? Is the villain of the piece one of Lady Violet’s ladies? Or, is the villain Adam Winters, the violent leader of the violent rebel group Omnium Democratia? Or, is the villain Violet’s suitor, Earl Grantham? Or – someone else entirely? You’ll just have to read this delightful book to find out. This was a great, fun-to-read mystery, but the ending left just a little to be desired. I’m sure this is a personal preference, but it is important to me as a reader. I want the romance to be totally complete in the book. I really dislike it when the book ends with the proposal and acceptance. I always want a wedding and some follow-up from that. An epilogue is absolutely one of my favorites. In this one, I would have LOVED to see their wedding and a scene from several months down-the-road when he receives his ‘honors’. I’d like to know what those honors were. Was he granted a title – maybe a Baron or something? Did he just get medals or was it more substantial? For me, it just felt a bit unfinished because I had too many questions. Therefore, I’ve given it a 4-star rating. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Liz Donatelli

    Debut author Elizabeth Everett is a spectacular talent. Set in 1842 England, A Lady's Formula for Love introduces readers to Athena's Retreat, a women's group that doubles as an underground save haven for women scientists. The sparkling cast of characters, particularly the club's founder, Violet, captivates from page one. Intrigue, suspense, and humor support an emotionally engaging romance between Violet and her bodyguard, Arthur, that (rather deliciously) defies societal standards of the time. Debut author Elizabeth Everett is a spectacular talent. Set in 1842 England, A Lady's Formula for Love introduces readers to Athena's Retreat, a women's group that doubles as an underground save haven for women scientists. The sparkling cast of characters, particularly the club's founder, Violet, captivates from page one. Intrigue, suspense, and humor support an emotionally engaging romance between Violet and her bodyguard, Arthur, that (rather deliciously) defies societal standards of the time. Their love connection is as profoundly satisfying as the self-love and self-acceptance that they eventually learn to show themselves. Liz Donatelli., host of Reader Seeks Romance, romance novel talk show on YouTube

  24. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I was so excited to get an early copy of this for review. I’m new to the historical romance genre and have been having a lot of fun checking out some of the recent releases. A Lady’s Formula for Love is a perfect entry point. As a big fan of The Bodyguard, I fell quickly into the story of star-crossed lovers Violet and Arthur and didn’t want to leave it. Set in London in 1842, the setting felt familiar, which for someone not used to reading historical fiction was a plus. I liked that I understood I was so excited to get an early copy of this for review. I’m new to the historical romance genre and have been having a lot of fun checking out some of the recent releases. A Lady’s Formula for Love is a perfect entry point. As a big fan of The Bodyguard, I fell quickly into the story of star-crossed lovers Violet and Arthur and didn’t want to leave it. Set in London in 1842, the setting felt familiar, which for someone not used to reading historical fiction was a plus. I liked that I understood where they were and when, and how society at that time shaped these people and this story. I could picture it easily and the descriptions provided in book only enhanced my mental picture. The added science, while significant to the plot, wasn’t heavy handed; it was easy enough to understand without pulling you out of the moment. But it also characterized these women and the amazing work they were doing at time when no one wanted them to be doing it. This book is both sweet and steamy. In one moment, the steam factor is high, and then it falls into a sweet moment between these two imperfect lovers. Both experienced but so naïve in love, Violet and Arthur are a breath of fresh air. The fumble through it, but whole-heartedly. You root for them as the world attempts to tear them apart and a literal villain puts Violet in harm’s way. You wonder if society expectations and self-sacrifice will win out over love and are then rewarded with a shock of an ending (I never guessed who the villain was!) that makes all your worry worth it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    What best to read on Valentine’s Day than a romance :O) This debut novel from Everett is everything you might want from this genre - fun and entertaining. As it happens, it is also very smart. Lady Violet Hughes is an endearing character, more at ease in her secret lab, loosing herself in chemical experiments, then navigating the treacherous waters of contemporary society. Since the death of her oppressive husband, she has found solace in Science and in helping her fellow female scientists by fou What best to read on Valentine’s Day than a romance :O) This debut novel from Everett is everything you might want from this genre - fun and entertaining. As it happens, it is also very smart. Lady Violet Hughes is an endearing character, more at ease in her secret lab, loosing herself in chemical experiments, then navigating the treacherous waters of contemporary society. Since the death of her oppressive husband, she has found solace in Science and in helping her fellow female scientists by founding a clandestine sanctuary for them. Events take a turn when the Crown gives her a confidential mission, one that endangers her life and work. At the instance of her well-meaning son-in-law, she ends up having a bodyguard in the person of the solitary and reserved Arthur Kneland... As you can imagine, those two are immediately attracted to each other, but ‘naturally', plenty of obstacles are in the way. Each has to come to term with their pasts in order to be able to move forward. "Our lives are not the product of mistakes we’ve made and the wrongs we committed. Our lives are what comes afterward. The journey we take in search of forgiveness. The lessons we learn along the way.” The other aspect I loved was how most characters were three-dimensional, a combination of light and dark. It is so easy to create perfect heroes and unredeemable villains, but here, Everett went for the more realistic approach, one you don’t see that often. Apart from the charming love story, this is also a very funny book, peopled as it is by a quirky heroine and her many eccentric friends/club members. Can’t wait for the next one :O) P.S. In the author’s note, Everett mentions Elizabeth Fulhame, Sophie Germain and Mary Somerville, some of the rare acknowledged female scientists. I am ashamed to say that I don’t even recognise their names but I shall definitely find out more about them! They deserve it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    2.5 stars Unfortunately, I have to be in the minority of readers who didn't enjoy this debut book by Elizabeth Everett. I wish I could've liked it more. I was interested with the book due to the blurb... I mean, SECRET FEMALE SCIENTISTS sounds heavenly. Women in STEM, people. In historical era. Alas, it didn't happen to me sadly. First and foremost, I thought Everett leaned towards the forgetful and mad-scientists trope a little bit too much. It already started a bit shaky because so many characte 2.5 stars Unfortunately, I have to be in the minority of readers who didn't enjoy this debut book by Elizabeth Everett. I wish I could've liked it more. I was interested with the book due to the blurb... I mean, SECRET FEMALE SCIENTISTS sounds heavenly. Women in STEM, people. In historical era. Alas, it didn't happen to me sadly. First and foremost, I thought Everett leaned towards the forgetful and mad-scientists trope a little bit too much. It already started a bit shaky because so many characters introduced right from the beginning, I was a bit struggling. While I did have a smile or two in the beginning, with the mishaps that these women made in their laboratory, I soon grew rather tired of it. Why can't the author write about competent brilliant women, who functions very well in life and society? Yes, sure, sometimes explosions or something of error happens during experiment, but in this book, it also didn't serve a good purpose. Like, well, these women create a lot of errors. The men will surely roll their eyes. Another one that totally made me disappointed with the author's choice was the treatment for the villain. I was upset that the villain didn't get to be rightly punished. I was even more upset that the author decided to use FORGIVENESS element to justify this, by way of Violet telling Arthur, "that this villain deserves atonement because of Arthur's past and that he should believe in forgiveness". WELL, HELLO, ARTHUR DID NOT PUT A GUN TO YOU, VIOLET?!?! And EXCUSE ME, what made Arthur exiled himself was TOTALLY DIFFERENT than what this villain did?!? It was a different thing! I was really grumpy about this, everyone! Oh, and Violet's friends made me angry as well!! Why couldn't they champion Violet's happiness above all else?!? I thought they were being rude and mean to her, kept her from organizing the events, when they knew how much the club meant for Violet. Then chastising Violet when she wanted to grasp that happiness with Arthur, for the sake of "keeping the club away from scandal in society". WHAT ABOUT SISTERHOOD HERE, LADIES?!?! You are NOT good friends *scoff* As for the romance, I'm sorry, but I thought Violet and Arthur were only connected by the temptation and attraction of the body. There were a number of sexy times here, Violet couldn't help thinking about Arthur's physical attractiveness (it was right from the start), and I am a reader who prefer the connection of mind and heart. I wish there were more exploration of that, especially with Violet's background (of being lonely since her husband didn't appreciate her brilliant mind) and Arthur's past (of self-exiling because of the mistake he did). There weren't many of these scenes in my humble opinion. So yes, there weren't many things that made me excited about the series. I wasn't curious with any of the secondary characters who MIGHT be the next hero/heroine. The only two character that I thought were excellent were Winthram, the doorman, whose story was a bit heartbreaking, and Greycliff, who hired Arthur in the first place. Don't think I will follow this series 😞 A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Lady Violet get awarded a contract from the government for a new scientific discovery.  This brilliant woman who has a club for women that masquerades as a place to convene for sewing and gossip. But is actually a secret place for woman to research and hold scientific experiments. This new attention brings threats to Lady Violet, enter protection officer Arthur. They have instant chemistry. Violet is a widow and her husband was an abusive prick (verbally, we don't hear it only the after effects o Lady Violet get awarded a contract from the government for a new scientific discovery.  This brilliant woman who has a club for women that masquerades as a place to convene for sewing and gossip. But is actually a secret place for woman to research and hold scientific experiments. This new attention brings threats to Lady Violet, enter protection officer Arthur. They have instant chemistry. Violet is a widow and her husband was an abusive prick (verbally, we don't hear it only the after effects on her self esteem) and this bodyguard is teaching her how to love herself.  But she is a lady of the ton, she has to choose the prudent Earl, the family friend who can keep her reputation intact but is like a brother.  Will she be able to follow her heart and her lady parts to the man she wants and screw convention? This book was unputdownable (is that a word?) with entertaining smart characters, steamy romance, STEM sexy talk, woman's rights, mystery, intrigue, and balls (the ones you dance at, you people have dirty minds!)! Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Thank you @berkleyromance and @netgalley for the advanced readers copy for my honest and voluntary review. 

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kari Ann Sweeney

    PUB DATE 2.9.2021 Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for the early copy of 𝐀 𝐋𝐀𝐃𝐘'𝐒 𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐌𝐔𝐋𝐀 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄 (The Secret Scientists of London #1). This debut historical romance by author was full of dazzling chemistry, both literally and figuratively. Take a genius STEM heroine and a gruff bodyguard amidst a clandestine mystery and you have the formula for a fabulous read. WHAT I LOVED: -Headstrong, brilliant women in science willing to go against the grain. -Devastatingly sweet one moment and "smelling sal PUB DATE 2.9.2021 Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for the early copy of 𝐀 𝐋𝐀𝐃𝐘'𝐒 𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐌𝐔𝐋𝐀 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄 (The Secret Scientists of London #1). This debut historical romance by author was full of dazzling chemistry, both literally and figuratively. Take a genius STEM heroine and a gruff bodyguard amidst a clandestine mystery and you have the formula for a fabulous read. WHAT I LOVED: -Headstrong, brilliant women in science willing to go against the grain. -Devastatingly sweet one moment and "smelling salt" steamy the next. -'Whodunit': The elements of danger and intrigue blended seamlessly into the rest of the story. -Witty, smart banter. -Female friendships that felt authentic. -Arthur- (sigh). My favorite kind of hero. Reserved and standoffish on the outside but totally devoted on the inside. -Mature couples- I love that they have lived life a bit. Their respective backstories played well into shaping them personally and together. I'm already looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I love love LOVED this book! I didn't know I wanted to see BODYGUARD in 19th Century England but my god, I did. I loved the way the world was explored from the POV of a super-smart scientist. I was hooked from page one and I'm not usually a historical romance gal. I think it really hits the rom-com beats so well. Just a joy of a debut! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for real reviews. I love love LOVED this book! I didn't know I wanted to see BODYGUARD in 19th Century England but my god, I did. I loved the way the world was explored from the POV of a super-smart scientist. I was hooked from page one and I'm not usually a historical romance gal. I think it really hits the rom-com beats so well. Just a joy of a debut! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for real reviews.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Em

    3.5 stars (on a curve) Alright. I suspect the tags for this one proved irresistible to most romance readers: female scientist! "Enigmatic" protection officer! A secret women's club comprised of England's most brilliant FEMALE scientists! Female empowerment! Feminism! Spies! Shadowy threats! Seasoned principal characters! An inclusive cast of secondary characters! Yep, yes, more please! Look, these bona fides plus a DIK at my favorite romance review site had me rushing to read this one. But. Good n 3.5 stars (on a curve) Alright. I suspect the tags for this one proved irresistible to most romance readers: female scientist! "Enigmatic" protection officer! A secret women's club comprised of England's most brilliant FEMALE scientists! Female empowerment! Feminism! Spies! Shadowy threats! Seasoned principal characters! An inclusive cast of secondary characters! Yep, yes, more please! Look, these bona fides plus a DIK at my favorite romance review site had me rushing to read this one. But. Good news first? I liked both principal characters. I liked the premise. I liked the mystery surrounding the identity of our villain. I liked women looking out for and supporting each other. I liked this story! Sort of. The not so good news? The author substitutes introspective dual PoV's for character development and comes up short. The cast is TOO BIG and overstuffed with stock characters that serve no purpose whatsoever except to distract us from the romance. Speaking of... Our principal characters meet-cute after Lady Violet Hughes (our heroine) is nearly killed by an exploding bomb. Violet is saved when Arthur Kneland, the British secret agent tasked with protecting her, recognizes a bomb is about to go off (huh?!) and rushes to pull her away from the blast zone and shield her with his own body. Violet immediately feels safe and protected by the stranger who rescued her. Ahem. Arthur feels the first stirrings in his stone cold heart since the death of his younger sister decades ago. And lust. They both feel that. And keep feeling it. And thinking about it. And feeling it. And thinking about it. And acting on it. Trust me on this. Meanwhile, we meet a bewildering array of slightly odd or quirky or straight up weird or "damaged" women (the gangs all here, folks!) who comprise the membership of the Athena's Retreat . Athena’s Retreat, housed in a building attached to Violet's own London home (Beacon House), provides an ultra secret! and safe! workplace/sanctuary for female scientists to complete their research and investigations and lab work and other sciencey things (don’t judge me). Things often catch on fire or explode. No worries! Everyone is used to it and the housekeeper can get any fabric clean! Anywho... the public is curious about the Retreat - which purports itself as a women's social club, and gossip columnists love to write about it. To keep the public at bay from discovering the true purpose of the club, the membership is hosting a public exhibition. Arthur, now masquerading as a majordomo and one of a handful of men on staff, must keep Violet safe in the lead-up to the Big Event (there’s a running joke about the name of the event and it’s unfunny and odd so I’m not going to mention the various iterations) and as she completes work on a clandestine government project. Why? A secret, villainous group also wants to get its hands on her research and will stop at nothing to get it. Arthur has to keep Violet alive even though her work and absentmindedness and desire conspire against him. Poor guy. Look friends, these two fall head over heels in love/lust while they're lying on the pavement after a bomb nearly kills Violet. Literally 2 seconds after they hit the dirt. Their chemistry is HOT, HOT, HOT and before long they're confessing their deepest secrets and desires and hooking up. Like, a lot. They have the lust. And the desire. And the thoughts. Ad nauseam. Arthur might be doing a lot of investigating? If he does, it's mostly off page. He might be a badass super amazing investigator - and the author really, really, really wants us to believe it, but the text doesn't support it. He's always mooning over Violet or hanging out in the kitchen with the servants, or fighting with Violet's handsome best friend. Or, even worse, arriving after Violet’s nearly been killed. And the same holds true for Violet. SHE'S BRILLIANT. But mostly she just seems like a lonely odd-ball who makes messes in her lab, forgets to eat, and is often excluded from group activities by the women she supports. WTF. Friends, I wanted to get on the Violet and Arthur gravy train and I wish the author gave us more time to get to know each of them as individuals and less of them as "Violet and Arthur and the Never Ending Story of Their Longing and Loneliness And Amazing Sexy Times." It's a bummer. I'm also on the fence with the diverse cast of secondary characters. We get a black servant and a trans footman, and obv, lots of women scientists. I don't like feeling as if an author is pandering to inclusive rep...but...well, I felt pandered to. So there's that. Since this is a debut and the foundations of a good story are here, I'm predisposed to give it the benefit of the doubt and round it up just a smidge. I give it a C for execution/B for entertainment value, or 3.5 stars. A promising, if uneven, debut.

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