Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Review - - The Lady Plays with Fire

The Lady Plays with Fire
by Susanna Craig
Goode's Guide to Misconduct - Book 2
Publisher: Zebra Books
Release Date: April 23, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

As the daughter of a clergyman, Julia Addison knows she’ll never be able to fulfill her lifelong dream of acting on the stage. But writing forthright reviews of the Season’s most popular plays for 
Mrs. Goode’s Magazine for Misses, popularly known as Goode’s Guide to Misconduct is surely the next best thing. Even better, she’s got a ticket to Ransom Blackadder’s latest irritating satire about English society. Best of all, she’s sharing a theater box with the gruff but handsome Lord Dunstane, which is enough to make Julia call for an encore . . .
Graham McKay, the Earl of Dunstane, rarely leaves his home in the Scottish Highlands. Why would he? Nothing about London has ever held his interest—until he meets Julia. But when Graham realizes she is the critic who panned his last play—and she discovers he is in fact the man behind Blackadder’s wicked pen—will it bring down the curtain on their romance—not to mention the magazine that published the humiliating review? Or can an unexpected collaboration set the stage for a scandalous love affair?

PJ's Thoughts:

This second book in Susanna Craig's Goode's Guide to Misconduct series pairs a grumpy Scottish earl (who secretly pens satiric plays) with a delightful woman (who secretly reviews those plays). It's another enjoyable foray into the lives of the young women who, unknown to their families, secretly share their talents through the pages of the popular Mrs. Goode's Magazine for Misses and the men who capture their hearts. Eventually.

One of the facets of Craig's writing that I most enjoy is her development of characters, a skill on full display in this book. I love the complexities of Graham and Julia, how their layers are slowly revealed to the reader - and to one another. The banter between them is lively and on point and the chemistry is steamy with Julia taking full control of her desires. I love the push and pull between them, how Julia unknowingly pushes Graham to be better, to be his true self, and how they put their hearts on the line for one another, even as an unknown person strives to ruin both of their good names. 

If you're a fan of Craig's books, you'll no doubt enjoy the easter eggs sprinkled throughout the book (from earlier books and series) while readers new to her writing should have no difficulty jumping in at this point. If you enjoy immersive, well-researched, character-driven stories that hold your attention and deliver a well-earned happy ending, might I recommend The Lady Plays with Fire...or, really, any Susanna Craig novel. She never lets me down.


  1. I thank you for the introduction to this author and the review. This sounds like a fun read.

  2. Thank you for the review and recommendation. I have one of her books on my TBR shelf, but haven't read her yet. This sounds like an interesting story line.