As joint owner of London’s most notorious gambling hall, The Underworld, Cole Hewitt spends his days surrounded by wealth and looks every inch the debonair.

Unknown to most, he was born a bastard, and knows better than anyone the fine line between the elite and the slums.

When he falls for the beautiful Lady Gemma Amberson, sister to the Duke of Kent, Cole knows that his past means he will never be considered worthy of her. However Cole has no intention of being cast aside again.

Still Cole’s attraction to Gemma hasn’t gone unnoticed – and there are those who wish to thwart his plans, for the darkest of reasons. Cole may be used to getting his own way. But the question is: how far will he go to get it?

Titles in the Bastards of London series include:  The Den of Iniquity – Into The Hall of Vice –

Title:  Into The Hall of Vice
Series:  Bastards of London #2
Author:  Anabelle Bryant
Genre:  Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Published:  April 19, 2017
Publisher:  HQ Digital
My Rating:  5 stars

In a time when linage and family pedigree meant far more than the heart, soul and intention of a person, two people meet and lives are changed.  In the world of highest society one would walk naturally there, even if a bit cautiously because of changed circumstances.  The other would skirt the edges having known great poverty, homelessness and despair in their younger years, to rise in wealth to the status of, or financially better than many of the titled citizens of the time. Two people from what would be considered by many as the opposite ends of the social standing yardstick will discover that nothing can stand in the way of the heart, no matter the price that must be paid.  With that one right person at their side, there is nothing they cannot conquer together.

Cole is a partner in the infamous gaming hell Underworld.  While the financial security of this endeavor, as well as the quite honest emotion of taking money from those who look down upon him and his friends, it’s not Cole’s only passion.  He secretly helps to run Second Chances, a place for children who like he once was, find themselves on the streets, in danger with a questionable future.  Few know of this association for obvious dangerous reasons, but that doesn’t prevent Cole from dropping in often – disguise is a wonderful thing to play with.  The one thing that Cole knows he will never find is that elusive love, somewhat like his friend Max and Vivienne have found.  A part of him might  long for it, but he doesn’t truly believe that he will ever be that fortunate.  Right up until he encountered Gemma.

With the official mourning for her father now over Gemma can truly begin the investigation into her father’s death.  She knows it is not as simple as it’s been made out to be… a simple carriage accident.  If it were only that natural of an accident, although painful, why has her sister Rosalind not spoken a word since that day of discovery.  No, there are too many things that do not make sense, and Gemma is determined to know the truth.  During their father’s life, Gemma, her sister and brother had a wonderful, loving life.  Now her sister is silent and her brother has become a man she no long recognizes.  Upon taking the title, the new Duke of Kent is a pompous ass who looks down upon those of a lower class, and practically has made his sisters prisoners in their home with watchful servants and bodyguards surrounding them at all times.  Yet her brother is in for a rude awakening if he believes that will stop her questions or her search for the truth of their father’s death.  She’ll simply have to be more sneaky, cautious and deceitful than he has become in order to avoid detection.  She knew she was on her own in this quest for answers, right up until she met Cole when absolutely everything changed.

Into The Hall of Vice is Anabelle Bryant at her best.  The Bastards of London series has been darker, edgier than her previous romances.  And I’m finding them completely fascinating in depth and characters.  Unfortunately life isn’t all beautiful gowns and glittering ballrooms, often it’s harsher, uglier and more demeaning than we could ever imagine.  On the surface Cole and Gemma may appear to be opposites, yet in the heart where love lies they are so right for each other.  In a time period where class does matter to many, they will defy convention for the love of each other.  There are puzzles to solve, danger lurking around corners, mysteries cloud personality changes and someone must eventually pay for a crime.  The search for truth is not easy, especially when someone does not want that truth to be uncovered.

Gemma and Cole are wickedly delicious together.  That spark that makes a great couple is easy to see as they work their way to discovering the truth.  It is always fun for me to run into old friends, and seeing Max, Vivienne and Sophia once again was a treat.  As much as I loathed him at times, I do hope that one day the new Duke of Kent will find himself redeemed.  Perhaps an odd thought, but I sort of want him to experience what he tried to stop and maybe become the better man for it.  Probably would never happen, but I do have a soft heart at times.

I would highly recommend Into The Hall of Vice for any reader who loves romance, no matter the genre.  Cole and Gemma’s story is passionate, mysterious, loving with enough edge to keep you guessing until the reveals.  Yes, anyone who loves Romance would enjoy this one.  If you haven’t yet had the pleasure,, also consider picking up The Den of Iniquity, the first story in this series.  While each can be read alone, a series is always better when you know everything, don’t you think?  Read this one, I believe you’ll fall in love with the story and the characters quite easily.

Oh, one last thought – the covers for the Bastards of London series are absolutely breathtaking.  I love the feel of danger and a touch of sin that is conveyed through the covers.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available for the Kindle