I would prefer a sword to fight a duel, but a pen to plan a war.’
Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!
But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…
Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!
Spoilers: Please note that my review will contain spoilers!
Lillian Linton isn’t the normal well behaved lady of the 1800’s. Women were supposed to aim for only one thing: find a proper husband to care for them and raise his children. Well, Lilly isn’t having none of that.
The story begins with Lilly dressing up in her uncle’s Bufford’s attire so she can pass as a man in order to vote, which was something women weren’t supposed to do. According to scientists, women’s brains were not developed enough in order for them to have the intelligence required to make political decisions. And that’s what Lilly is trying to change.
While making her way to Polling station, Lilly couldn’t help but hear a dubious transaction between three gentlemen. One man was trying to sell a property to the other one and Lilly knew that property was not worth a single penny. She sticks her nose in their business and the gentleman who was buying the property is so surprised that he hires her as his secretary. Of course, he didn’t know at the time that he was in fact hiring a woman (which was scandalous to say the least).
After being hired for the job, Lilly proceeds to Polling Station. All goes well, until she curtsies to the gentleman inside. Well, it was simply odd for a man to curtsy and that was her mistake. Her disguise is discovered and the police drag a screaming and infuriated Lilly outside, where her new employer is watching and goes to her rescue, asking the policeman what they are intending to do with the man they’re holding. It is then he discovers that the person he earlier hired as his secretary is in fact a woman and watches dumbstroke as Lilly tells him she will see him in his office Monday morning.
Rikkard Ambrose is his name and he isn’t an average businessman. He is in fact one of the most powerful businessman in the British Empire.
Of course Mr. Ambrose doesn’t believe Lilly will actually show up in his office, but the truth is, she does exactly that. Dressed up as her usual self, she introduces herself to Mr. Ambrose’s employee as Miss Lillian Linton and, after some distrust from the employee, he lets her pass.
Mr. Ambrose tells Lilly that she can remain calm because he doesn’t intend pressing charges against a female who is clearly not right in the head. And that’s when Lilly loses it and calls his honour as gentleman if he doesn’t fulfill what he’s promised: a job.
After some banter and much consideration, Mr. Ambrose finds himself in the obligation of hiring her, but he has one rule: she must come to work dressed up exactly as she was when he hired her. Despite hating this fact, Lilly knows this is one of a kind opportunity for her to gain her independence and accepts the offer, being presented to her co-workers as Mr. Victor Linton.
‘I expect you to come to work dressed exactly the same as on the day I acquired your services, Mister Linton. I want exactly what I bought, and I am going to get it. Do you understand that, Mister Linton?’
The story develops as Lilly dresses up as a man to go to work but makes Mr. Ambrose’s head pound. Lilly is sassy, bold and often speaks before she thinks. Mr. Ambrose is not used to people questioning his decisions or even disregarding them but Lilly doesn exactly that.
Despite often being irritated by that fact, Mr. Ambrose also admits she is quite loyal and brave for a female. Of course, he finishes that sentence by saying that she’s probably like that because her brain doesn’t understand dangerous situations.
Lilly soon discovers Mr. Ambrose isn’t the usual business man, for he deals with dangerous situations. No matter how many times he tries to dissuade her from working with him, Lilly always finds a way to stay by his side.
Besides their relationship, the other very funny one is her relationship with Karim, Mr. Ambrose’s bodyguard. Karim is a huge mohammedan that carries his huge sabre everywhere and after a short encounter with Lilly he always calls her ‘woman-who-is-worse-than-ifrit’. Lilly of course, thanks him for thinking so highly of her.
‘I would fight an Ifrit for you, Sahib… but this creature?’ He gave me a look that reminded me of the way my aunt always looked at me. ‘I must respectfully decline.’
In the time when Lilly isn’t working for Mr. Ambrose, she faces another challenge. Her aunt is trying very eagerly to marry her to someone, anyone for that matter so she can get rid of her. Her and of course her sisters because it’s simply too many mouths to feed. She makes Lilly attend balls and dance with gentleman which is something Lilly really despises and tries to sabotage gentleman’s attempts every time she’s able. Besides that problem, she has another huge one. Her younger sister, the only one she actually likes, is in love with the piano’s tuner son. The boy doesn’t come from an important family so her aunt will never accept them. In the meanwhile there is someone very interested in Ella and she fears he’s going to propose real soon. Edmund, the piano tuner’s son, suggests to Ella that they elope, which Lilly overhears. In order to prevent that, Lilly does everything in her power to make sure Ella doesn’t get proposed. It’s on one of those times she meets the funny Captain Carter. He’s the only man Lilly actually cares about. She considers him a close friend.
‘In case you hadn’t noticed, Captain Carter, ugly men are no less fond of pretty girls than others.’ ‘True,’ he sighed. ‘What a shallow sex we are.”
The book picks up its pace when a very important file disappears from Mr. Ambrose’s safe. After a long episode of Lilly trying to explain to Mr. Ambrose that she didn’t steal any file from him, he soon realizes that the culprit must be his prior secretary: Simmons. They engage in a pursuit from Simmons in order to retrieve the file. The problem is: Simmons already sold it. And not to anyone, but to Mr. Ambrose’s nemesis: Lord Daniel Eugene Dalgliesh. A very powerful lord that has a great connection to the royal family. It is then that Mr. Ambrose realizes how dangerous the situation will become and tries to get Lilly to quit. Of course Lilly refuses and promises to stay by his side while he’s trying to retrieve the file.
‘That’s all? Why didn’t you stop her?’ ‘Why did not you, Sahib?’ Karim asked, deadpan. Silence. ‘She wanted to get in the coach,’ he repeated. ‘She is the woman that is worse than Ifrit. I do not disagree with a woman that is worse than Ifrit.’
That leads them to dangerous but hilarious situations like Lilly drinking alcohol for the first time (much to Mr. Ambrose’s dismay) and getting really drunk or when they end up in a ship, tangled inside a shut crate and shipped to France.
‘I’ll somehow have to get my knees past you, so they won’t press down on you when I push. Is there a little space on either side of you farther down? Test with your feet.’ ‘Yes, there’s room there.’ ‘Well, that solves the problem. Spread your legs for me.’ For a few moments, silence filled the small, black space inside the crate. Utter, complete silence. ‘What,’ I asked very slowly and deliberately, ‘did you say?’ ‘I said “spread your legs”.’ He sounded surprised that I hadn’t understood, and slightly irked that I hadn’t immediately done as he commanded. ‘Go on, it’s not that difficult. The left leg to the left, the right leg to the right.’ ‘I know what “spread your legs” means!’
I’ve read this story on Wattpad, before it was even published, but I can say I read this book once a year. This is one of my most prized books, one I cherish very much. No matter how many times I read it, it always makes me laugh. Unfortunately, this book is underrated. Not many people know this story and that’s a real shame because it is THAT good.
Are you one of the rare souls that read this wonderful story? What are your thoughts?
– The first meeting between Mr. Ambrose and Lilly in his office
– The written messages between Mr. Ambrose and Lilly in their offices, using the pneumatic tubes
– When Lilly pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman and stalks through the city with a bag full of onions, assuring Mr. Ambrose she will finds Simmons this way but not telling him how
– When Lilly tells Mr. Ambrose she is pursued by a man and Mr. Ambrose abruptly leaves his office and grab her hands very concerned she is being threatened when she only meant someone wanted to marry her.
– Lilly meeting Captain Carter for the first time
– Lord Dalgliesh and Mr. Ambrose’s first encounter at a ball
– Lilly trying to figure if Mr. Ambrose is in love with the lady he took to the ball
– Mr. Ambrose’s speech against women’s suffrage followed by ‘Mr. Linton’s’ speech
– When Lilly gets drunk in the pub and starts seeing yellow piggies dancing and Napoleon
– Mr. Ambrose, Lilly and Karim secretly invading the East India Company
– Lilly gets stuck in a shut crate, inside a ship, with Mr. Ambrose lying on top of her for several hours
– Lilly discovering chocolat croissant
– The draisine pursuit
– Mr. Ambrose frantic pursuit for a dress inside a sinking ship in order to get Lilly into a lifeboat
‘Knowledge is power is time is money!’
‘You know, Mr Linton, you have a way of saying “Sir” that makes it sound astonishingly like a synonym for “miserable chauvinist worm”.’
‘Then don’t you dare tell me my dreams are insane! Because my dreams are what I live for!’
‘You bastard! I’d like to throw something at your head!’ I told him. ‘Be my guest,’ he said, ‘and you’ll be out of here faster than you can say “assault charges”.’
‘Only stupid men would want stupid wives!
“A really manly man with a lot of mannishness in his manliness.”
‘Are you intoxicated?’ I blinked. That word had too many syllables for my current mental capacity to cope with. ‘Intoxiwhatsy? ‘Intoxicated. Inebriated. Lashed. Mashed. Tiddly. On a bender. In other words, Mr Linton: are you drunk?’
‘Why in heaven’s name did you drink?’ ‘You ordered me to.’ ‘I never…’ ‘You said to behave like everybody else. Everybody else was drinking. You were.’ I nudged him playfully in the ribs, something that I vaguely knew I normally wouldn’t have done with a ten foot pole. ‘Don’t you remember? Another one, me good fellow, hm?’ From the look Mr Ambrose gave me, he didn’t appreciate being nudged playfully in the ribs very much. Nor did he apparently appreciate vocal impersonations. ‘You,’ he told me in a tone that could have frozen the Sahara, ‘are a disgrace to your sex.’ ‘Which one would that be?’
‘Are you deaf? Yes. A skirt, a dress, a hat and all the rest of it. All those things that make a girl actually look like one, and not some cheap imitation of a man!’
‘I… don’t seem to fit through the hole.’ Certain generously-endowed parts of me, anyway. ‘The hole should be big enough for an average person, Mr Linton.’ ‘Well, then maybe I’m a special person,’ I hissed.
‘What are you doing, Sir?’ I demanded. ‘I thought I told you to stay out of sight, Mr Linton.’ I cupped one hand behind an ear in a mock gesture. ‘Excuse me? The wind is so loud I hardly understand what you are saying. You want me to stay by your side?’ ‘Out of sight, Mr Linton. Out – of – sight!’ ‘By your side it is, then, Sir.’
‘Maybe I don’t want to be rid of you.’ I had to swallow. It was hard. ‘And maybe I don’t want to leave you behind.’
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Storm and Silence Series
* Sir Robert Thier is currently working on getting the sixth book, Storm of Bells, published. In the meantime you can read the sixth and seventh book on Wattpad or Radish.