London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive. Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets. But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London. Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?
According to the general public, Lady A is a dangerous character of scandal and blackmail. She is ruthless, and she is powerful. However, she is actually a very young teenanger named Arista, who is forced to become Lady A with her mask of raven feathers and a dress of dark colors. Bones, her cruel and nasty master, is merciless and would take her out the second she steps out of line. Arista, simply Arista, is a wonderful girl who is in a terrible and bad situation. The way she acts and the way she speaks is breathtaking to watch. She is only a pawn, and she knows it. It makes her story almost a tragedy.
Grae is on the clean side of the law. After meeting Lady A (though not knowing her rather dark and frightening reputation), he is enrathed with Arista and accidently falls in love with her. He is basically, for Arista, a dream come true. There is an admirable trait in him, that makes Arista (and readers) fall in love with him. He cares for Arista, and even though he does raise an eyebrow at her side work (this is a vast understatement), he comes through.
The villains of TANGLED WEBS are many, and they are unique and spectacular in their own way. It is easy to differentiate each one. Bones, the most obvious villain, is nasty and ruthless, and he is a familiar character to recognize. He is a character everyone loves to hate.
The book starts off with Lady A meeting a client. It is a very big way of starting the book off, and the author gives barely a minute for readers to settle in. Though the beginning is unsteady at first, the book takes control and it doesn't falter a bit. (Nice save, Lee Bross.) The book never stops weaving hidden agendas and complicity, until the very end where everything suddenly clicks together to make a picture of clarity.
The ending is greatly satisfying. Almost everything closes up. Even though there are clear loose ends for a sequel, the book is fine as the one and only book in the series.
Overall, TANGLED WEBS is a dark book set in the past. With a dizzying and beautiful romance, this book spins a gorgeous tale of intrigue and blackmail. It is the best for those who love dangerous people with secret plans and the capability for double crossing.
Rating: Four out of Five
I WANTED to like Arista, but her character seemed so unrealistic. Throughout the book she’s conflicted about her feelings; having grown up on the seedier side of London, she’s always been used and she vacillates between “I want to be free!” and “I CAN’T be free, the only life I’ve known is this” in the book.
It scared her, this sudden burst of conscience. If she wasn’t Lady A, then who was she? Where did she really belong?
Alright, Arista’s character premise sounds legit, but she really, really wasn’t that strong of a character. Sure, she could do stuff with her knife (that the author never failed to point out was on her thigh – I get it after the fourth time, thanks). But sometimes she’d be badass with her knife and threatening people and the other times she freezes and hesitates and is caught up in a daydream or something. I find myself wondering how she was able to stay alive throughout her life, if she acts that inconsistent.
Don’t get me started on when she meets Grae, and sparks fly. The sparks flew so much that she got distracted in her spying game and seriously, I was like “Getcha head in the game!” while she was caught up in Grae’s stormy eyes.
“When he touched her bare shoulder, Arista forgot how to breathe. The warmth she remembered so well spiraled outward from his touch. When he curled his fingers around the back of her beck and inched her head closer, a frantic beat began in her chest.”
Grae himself seemed like a nice guy, but we see a very superficial side to him. You can definitely tell he cares for Arista, but his lack of character makes him seem quite shallow. Nic was the only character that seemed interesting in the book, and he hardly appears at all. The evil guys are as wooden as the main love interest and are your typical mustache-twirling blackmailers. If I had to draw a comparison, I’d say the characters are a bland meal without any spices or sauces to add depth and flavor to the eater, or this case, reader.
I think Bross does her best in making the historical setting seem real, but it kind of fell flat. There are cameos of real life people (dead, of course), but it’s just a brief mentioning that has nothing to do with the story. In fact, the historical background is just that – a background. The story doesn’t have elements of the time period to add to the plot, it just stands there like a cardboard stage. I’m sure most people would think that’s good enough, but I guess I was expecting something a little… more.
Overall, the ending was quite satisfying. There are still enough loose ends to make another book, but there wasn’t a cliffhanger to make me want to grab the sequel. I kind of liked it actually. I’d recommend this to people who don’t really read historical fiction – this is a pretty light and short read to get introduced to the genre. But to someone who’s been there, done that, then this probably isn’t something you’d enjoy.
A VERY confused MC. Meet Arista aka Lady A aka Ana aka someone help me because so many “aka’s” aren’t even legal. Arista is a thief…or rather, the aid of a thief. Her boss, Bones (Villain #1), collects secrets of the aristocrats in London’s society and he’ll keep them safe, for a price, of course. He is cruel, abusive, and basically owns Arista. He keeps her starved and filthy, only allowing her to dress up family for the sake of masquerade parties, when Arista becomes Lady A and collects the payment from London’s richest. But Arista doesn’t know who she is, or what she wants to be. When she’s Lady A, she cherishes the control she, a girl, has over the richest of the city. But when everything is said and done, Arista only wants to run away, and lead a normal life. All of this struggle and angst is fine, but not until it wears the reader down. Duuuude. You don’t know what you want to do. Newsflash: None of us teens do. What you’re experiencing is normal teenage behaviour. Jeez. Don’t show me your inner struggle for 302 pages out of your 304 page book.
A host of characters with the depth of the finest potholes in your city. When I read a book, I expect to see characters who are thicker than a cardboard and deeper than potholes. I don’t want to see these characters come and go when the story line requires them to, and I don’t want them to be used to drag the story along. Examples of these characters? Nic (Love Interest #1), Becky (Arista’s “friend”), Grae (Reigning Love Interest) and most importantly Wild (Villian #2). These people came when they had to utter a few dialogues, and then left, leaving Arista to ponder upon—what else?—her identity crisis. Sigh.
Instalove? Instalove! I could go on and on and on about Arista and Grae and their love-at-first-sight situation. How she fell in love with his voice and the fact that he had been to India. How she thought about him all the time, forgetting how best friend and companion Nic had always protected her from Bones. How she thought that she wouldn’t even give him her name for fear that he would…what go to the cops? How she decided (without him, might I add) that she would help his family (who found their way into the book, somehow) and make sure that they lived happily—no matter the fact that she'd essentially dug her own grave. And then there was Grae. I loved him the first time he met Arista. He was all soft voice and strong arms and swoons, but as I kept seeing more and more of him, I realised that while he was likeable, he wasn’t some special character that I’d remember. Not bad, but nothing new either. Bummer, because I really like his name. MY NAME IS GRAE SINCLAIR AND I’M MYSTERIOUS AND SEXY *insert sexy pelvic gyrations*
Villains who are as cliché as they come. Two villains in this story, ladies and gents, and both do basically the same thing. One is a brute about it, the other uses sweet words to get what he wants. And if you don’t do as they say, they will take from you, whether you like it or not. Let me tell you, in the history of YA has never been one villain who made me fear for the character’s life. And Tangled Webs is no different. The two bad guys could have been worse had they shown something that other stereotypical villains don’t but they stuck to the old classics and that just weakened the plot even further.
London, 1725…or was it? One of my main reasons for picking up this book was the time period. London in books is my happy place, whether in current times or two hundred years ago. And in Tangled Webs, apart from the repeated mentions of the London slums and squalors and the filth in the alleyways, nothing else made me feel like the book was based in London. In fact, it could be the current time in a city that hosted a little too many masquerades and my feelings about the book would remain unchanged. What is the use of such an elaborate setting if it brings nothing of consequence to the plot line?
Overall, I’m not too sure if I’m going to pick up the sequel to this one, but it’s a confirmed two book series, so why not, right?
*I was provided a free ecopy of this book in exchange of an honest review. This did not in any way, however, influence the content of this review.*