Midway through my glorious holiday to Rome, and having finished Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor, I found the historical mystery The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon calling to me – I dived in hoping for another light and fun read to enjoy in the sun.
Back in 18th century Covent Garden, we meet Madam Moineau, the mysterious and alluring, masked mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment offering a good time and beautiful companions for some of the finest clients in London. Beneath the fine dresses, make up and masks though, Moineau hides a dark past that she wishes to remain hidden. This is all to be threatened in the winter of 1785 by the appearance of two men: first, the charming rogue artist Anthony Lake and second, the cold Viscount Edmund Polmear. Finding themselves both up against the fearsome Polmear, Lake and Moineau’s lives are to become inextricably entwined for good or ill.
Moineau, or Georgie as we learn her true identity is, has been through a terrible ordeal after which she has worked hard to build a new, safe life at Blackstairs. Now ferociously protective and independent, she finds it hard to let anyone close and with the return of Polmear, the instigator of her ordeal, she raises her defences even higher – when she first sees him again the fear was palpable. But could her heart also be under threat from the handsome Anthony Lake? Anthony has recently returned from Europe on a mission to find his daughter and revenge the murder of her mother. Feckless in the past, he is now determined to put things right. I really liked Georgie and Anthony, and I was totally invested in them and their struggles.
Catherine Curzon is a new author for me and my request of this book was a bit of a whim, purely based on the sound of the premise – boy am I pleased I followed my whim. I thought Curzon did a wonderful job of bringing alive 18th century London, with well rounded characters, a dark, twisting mystery and a will they/won’t they romance. While the romance was a larger part of the book than I had expected, I was enjoying the mystery and the characters so much I was happy to go with it. In the future, I would be interested in reading more by Catherine Curzon.
Overall, The Mistress of Blackstairs was exactly what I hoped it would be: a light historical mystery that was a real, easy page turner for my holiday and flight home. Good read.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Or anything else by Catherine Curzon?