Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well! Today I’m here with a review for a book that I absolutely flew through and which had a really intriguing plot in spite of me getting a bit lost part way through!
Title: The Hellion’s Waltz
Author: Olivia Waite
Genre: Historical fiction, Romance, LGBT+, Adult
Synopsis: It’s not a crime to steal a heart…
Sophie Roseingrave hates nothing more than a swindler. After her family lost their piano shop to a con man in London, they’re trying to start fresh in a new town. Her father is convinced Carrisford is an upright and honest place, but Sophie is not so sure. She has grave suspicions about silk-weaver Madeline Crewe, whose stunning beauty doesn’t hide the fact that she’s up to something.
All Maddie Crewe needs is one big score, one grand heist to properly fund the weavers’ union forever. She has found her mark in Mr. Giles, a greedy draper, and the entire association of weavers and tailors and clothing merchants has agreed to help her. The very last thing she needs is a small but determined piano-teacher and composer sticking her nose in other people’s business. If Sophie won’t be put off, the only thing to do is to seduce her to the cause.
Will Sophie’s scruples force her to confess the plot before Maddie gets her money? Or will Maddie lose her nerve along with her heart?
So, The Hellion’s Waltz was my first read of Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuit series, though I’ve had it on my radar for quite some time now, particularly the first novel, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics. I’m really glad that I was approved for an eARC of this third companion novel in the series, though, as it finally gave me the nudge I needed to dive into this sapphic historical romance!
The Hellion’s Waltz follows Sophie Roseingrave who, alongside her family, has had to move from London to the smaller and quieter town of Carrisford after their family lost a significant amount of money as well as their piano shop after being swindled by a conman. After setting up a newer, more modest store in the sleepy village, Sophie decides to have a look in a local drapers’ store where she happens upon the beginnings of new con being orchestrated by the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Maddie Crewe. Maddie desperately needs to take down this greedy draper, but if Sophie doesn’t stop sticking her nose in, things may go very badly very quickly.
Straight off the bat, this is such a readable book. It may have taken me longer than usual to get through it due to work commitments, but when I did have time to read it I found myself flying through it. Despite the somewhat predictable nature that comes with romance novels in general, the plot is one of, if not the most, exciting I’ve had the chance to read in any romance novel so far. Though, much like is the case with the greedy draper, Mr. Giles, a lot of the plotting went over my head, as I’m not all that familiar with looms and fabrics and the likes, I loved the construction of the scheme and seeing things all fall into place with everyone working together for a common good! Sophie’s own story gets weaved (pun intended) into all of this too, as we see her slowly but surely trying to grow and heal from her trauma. We see her love for playing the piano and composing start to flourish after she buried it all away in the aftermath of her family’s troubles, and it was very sweet to see!
The characters were also really wonderful, and I’m so glad that this was a dual perspective novel, as I don’t think that it would work well if it were written otherwise. Sophie is a very gentle, almost timid, young woman at the start of the book. She has very strong morals and she is not afraid to stand up for them and for herself. Her passion for music is very apparent and it was really lovely seeing her grow through that. Maddie was definitely my favourite of the two – she’s a ribbon maker by day and a con artist by night. She is very confident and knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. We see her dealing with her own difficult family background throughout the book, but also the love and strength that she pours into her found family too. We see some wonderful side characters throughout the book, too, including south Asian side characters, sapphic side characters, Jewish side characters and the loveliest polyamorous trio that I really hope Olivia Waite writes more about in the future!
There were a couple of concrete things, however, that did impede my enjoyment, as well as one silly little thing that just threw me completely out of the story – so let’s start with that one first. There are a couple of sex scenes in the book which are overall written pretty well, but due due this being a historical romance, the author has taken some liberties with the language and uses some rather archaic terms throughout, including the offender at hand – ‘cunny’. I’m sure you can tell what that word is referring to, but I never want to read it again in my life, I do not care if that in turn makes the story historically inaccurate! I just hate it! As for the actual points that led me to lower my rating, first off I constantly found myself confused by the large number of characters in the book. There were some that I could easily identify by their relation to other characters, but I kept feeling like we were being bombarded by names with no real development of the characters, so I was continuously forgetting who was who and I do think it affected how I understood the story and the plot. I also didn’t love the romance. It was mild hate to love but it was so rushed. The pair met one day, kissed a few days later, and then maybe a week after that were magically in love and discussing possible marriage in the future! I just didn’t enjoy it and I think it would have benefitted to having that hate/mistrust last just a bit longer.
Overall, though, this was a really fun historical romance that I recommend for the plot alone, and I’ll definitely be picking up the other two companion novels in this series soon!