Lydia Pallas, an orphan, is the only woman hired by the U.S. Navy for their research wing. She is brilliant, knowing several languages and well-loved by the staff. Lydia meets Alexander for the first time as he breezes into the room and into Admiral Fontaine’s office. Lydia is OCD. She has to have order, but after every visit from Alexander her bottles and picture frame are somehow rearranged. Alexander flirts with Lydia and hires her to translate documents on the side for extra money.
Lydia needs the extra money because her beloved apartment over The Laughing Dragon will be sold if Lydia doesn’t come up with $600 to buy it. Lydia is fond of order. She always has the clam chowder at The Laughing Dragon. She never tries anything new.
Alexander ran away from Professor Van Braacken as a child. The Professor runs the opium trade, kidnaps small children to be held as ransom their whole lives as the parent is forced to work in the trade. Alexander is able to escape and since then has been the needle under the Professor’s skin. There is also a price on his head. The Professor wants him dead and until the Professor discovers Alexander’s weakness—Admiral Fontaine’s children—he had been unable in the past to find a vulnerability in Alexander’s defenses. Alexander never married and always moved to stay safe. Alexander didn’t count on falling in love with Lydia.
Because of Alexander’s carelessness, Lydia loses her apartment when the promised funds from translating jobs are late. She is near destitute and herself addicted to opium which in that time came in the form of legal pharmaceuticals. In spite of her addiction, she and Alexander continue to have clandestine meetings until the Admiral’s child is kidnapped and Alexander must rely on Lydia to help him rescue the child from the Professor’s estate.
The dialogue is witty and flirty between Alexander and Lydia. Lydia’s character is well-defined as someone with an OCD nature. Their love is complicated, like a dance. Both are lovable characters and because of their complicated natures, one is immediately intrigued by their relationship. The writing and imagery is well-done. I gave this novel five stars as one I would probably read again.
*book given by publisher to review.