Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

9:00 AM

Title: Tangled Webs (Tangled Webs #1)
Author: Lee Bross
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 304
Source: ARC provided by publisher

Overall: 3.5 Stars

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?

My Thoughts:  
Lee Bross' YA debut Tangled Webs was an entertaining page-turner that kept me awake past midnight as I rooted for Arista to break away from her life of crime and find the happiness she deserved. I'm actually kind of surprised Tangled Webs has received so many mixed reviews because it was exactly the kind of book I'd hoped (and expected) it would be like. Deception, romance, and a dash of danger—what's not to enjoy about this YA historical fiction novel set in early 18th century London?

From glittering ballrooms to exclusive parties hosted by England's wealthiest nobility, everyone is fearful and wary of the masked woman notoriously known as Lady A, who trades and protects secrets for a very high price. But underneath the disguise is a teenage girl who is tired of being a pawn, who would do anything to escape from her employer Bones' tyrant control. It's not until the infamous Jonathan Wild, a rival of Bones, makes Arista an offer she can't refuse that her faraway dreams of leaving London don't seem so impossible anymore. 

Despite experiencing the kind of abuse that would have hardened or broken anyone else, Arista has quite a soft, kind heart. Living in the slums of London, she's made some difficult choices that she regrets, but it's the only way she's managed to survive this long. She didn't become a thief and blackmailer willingly, but to disobey Bones' orders would've meant certain death. When Arista meets Graedon Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant, at a masquerade one evening, sparks soon quickly fly between them, but how can it ever be anything more than a flirtation when her past threatens to tear them apart?

What I think Tangled Webs needed was simply more time to more intricately develop the plot and characters. Arista's childhood friend and protector, Nic, was one of the most interesting characters in the novel, and I would've loved to explore more of the friendship dynamic between them. As for Graedon, he's handsome, very sweet, and a perfect match for Arista, but oddly enough, it was these same qualities that also didn't make him particularly stand out as a love interest. I was actually more content to focus on Arista questioning her identity and the doubts she had about her future.

While I can't say I absolutely fell hard for Tangled Webs, I won't deny that I had absolute fun reading it. I love getting lost in time and living precariously through characters like Arista who experience a world so different than our own today. If you're a fan of reading YA historical fiction, then I think you'll definitely want to consider adding Lee Bross' Tangled Webs to your TBR pile.

Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group Canada for providing this review copy!

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