“Never turn yer back on the sea, and remember what’s hidden beneath her is always more deadly than what’s in plain sight.”
I read this book so fast! Honestly like in two days. And I am already getting into book three, so suffice it to say, I am flying through this series! Book two was really good. I liked it better than the first one and it felt like we were truly delving into the characters and the meat of the story for the first time. I’d give this one 3.5 stars.
I enjoyed how this sequel picked up right where the first one left off. It jumped right in with some action and setting up the story, centering around Helen’s Reclaimer training. There is a ton of intrigue, political scheming, dark lore, and a hint of mystery to this one, as well. I was excited to see that Helen had much more freedom in this book to explore her powers and make her own decisions, versus being watched, guarded, and controlled the entire time. The focus on her being able to dress and pass herself off as a man seemed a bit…much? I don’t know, I am just wondering how important that really is and if it’s enough to warrant nearly a whole book’s worth of training. It was interesting, though, to see Helen take that alter ego and kind of let herself become who she has always been behind lacy fans and petticoats.
The side characters got some more attention here, as well, and I liked seeing more of their personalities and individual struggles. Darby was far less at the forefront this book, which I kind of missed, because her friendship and loyalty to Helen were one of the highlights of the first novel. Her behind the scenes romance, though, is very sweet and I like that the obstacle there is somewhat removed for them. The villainous characters such as Pike and Lowry were given decent backstories and motives. The whole bawdy house crew was also very interesting to read and learn about. We learn much more about Mr. Hammond in this book, most notably about his sexuality and struggles with hiding that secret. He and Helen become a lot closer as friends and I really want to further explore their growing relationship. They have a great friendship/camaraderie/confidante type chemistry that sparks on the page. They are very compelling when working together and Mr. Hammond is such an interesting character on his own.
On the other hand, his sister Lady Margaret has regressed as a character. I actually think it was a pretty obvious and poorly done writing ploy, to turn Lady Margaret, the other woman around Helen who is in love with Carlston, into a bitchy, unpleasant character. She was not like that in the first book and it just seems pretty cheap to suddenly turn her into this rival for Helen, when there seems to be no need for it. Sure, she could be jealous of how close Helen and Carlston are getting, but it could have been better and more subtly written. Not this immature, mean-girl foolishness.
I was happy initially when I saw that they were going to turn Delia’s story into something more and bring her into the fold, but it was a little anticlimactic. She was quickly sworn into the secrecy of the club, but then had no real part to play. I was also a little turned off by how many times it was noted that her pain and suffering had turned her into a thinner, more attractive version of herself. Kind of pushed that notion a bit too far for me and just worded it in a gross manner. Speaking of gross, the Duke is the absolute worst. He was annoying in the first book and good lord he just got worse here. I have no idea how Helen doesn’t lose her temper on him more or at least try to speak plainly to him. He is pushy, rude, patronizing, immature, weak. Bleh. Not a fan of his. He reminds me WAY too much of “nice guys” that call you a bitch and stop being your friend when they realize you won’t sleep with them. Very intrigued to see how his and Helen’s engagement gets inevitably broken 🤞.
Well, I guess I have unintentionally just been reviewing the characters here, so that bring me to Carlston lol! I felt, again, that we really aren’t seeing as much of him as I would like. We do learn more about him here and he is present throughout the whole book, but I don’t know it feels like there is something missing for me still, like he is there, but only at a surface level. I do like him as a character and as a love interest for Helen, as you are supposed to, but it just doesn’t quite feel as swoony as it should. It’s just not that original maybe? I find all of their interactions very predictable and this whole book was kind of a big ploy to keep them apart from each other, with the whole sickness mystery and the engagement to the Duke and his wife being alive. I dont know. I liked all of the interactions they had and some of them are very heart-fluttery (that’s a thing!), but I was still left wanting more from their romance. And not in a “that was so good omg I need more from them” kind of way. I am hoping it will have a really satisfying ending next book.
The writing here was again quite good, the research and effort taken to immerse the audience in Regency England was brilliant. I thought the twists and plot turns were good, sliiiiiightly predictable still, but fun to read. I am still very invested in this story and am racing to the end, so it is definitely gripping! Let’s see if book two will remain my favorite of the trilogy or if the conclusion will take the cake!!
Thanks for reading, friends!
Title: The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
Author: Alison Goodman
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Paranormal | Romance
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Page Count: 496
Buy It: Book Depository | Wordery