Voices of the Night

Written by Lydia Joyce
Review by Margaret Barr

Former pickpocket and secret murderess Maggie King has run afoul of London’s most notorious criminal. She and her “chavies,” the motley group of young slum-dwellers she lives with, are in peril, and her voice, she hopes, will be their salvation. Opera-lover and would-be Pygmalion, Charles, Lord Edgington, is present at her audition. He seeks a willing and trainable woman of common origins who can dupe his snobbish sister into believing her a true lady. Impressed by Maggie’s histrionic talent and bravery, he proffers a persuasively large sum.

When the powerful nobleman whisks her off to a furnished house in Chelsea to make her over, Maggie assumes that becoming his mistress is part of the bargain. She will do anything to protect her charges from her enemy’s gruesome threats. As her mutually pleasurable and emotionally revealing relationship with Charles intensifies, so does her dread of reprisal. By the time she arrives at his ancestral home to makes her debut as a lady, she is determined to take bold action. And does.

Along with edgy, compelling characters, Joyce offers taut plotting and a dark, richly detailed Victorian setting. A reliance on stereotypical minor characters and a few lapses into American idiom are minor faults in an otherwise impressive historical romance.