I've been a fan of regencies since I was a teenager and devouring my mom's extensive collection of Georgette Heyer (it was not until later that I discovered Austen, whom I also adore). When you add magic to the mix, it becomes a sort of perfect genre elixir for me.
Alison Goodman's Dark Days Club was a delightful read: the heroine, Helen, is smart, but her character is still drawn within lines that would be normal for a girl of her era. She's unusually well-educated, but she is no modern miss. When the story opens, Helen is preparing for her presentation to the queen (and it's clear here that Goodman has done her research: the details of the presentation were fascinating). Her biggest concern is what to say if someone broaches the forbidden topic of her mother, who died in a tragic accident years ago--to the family's great relief, as she was considered a traitor and a private scandal.
Enter Lord Carlston, a social black sheep who claims some family connection and seems to know something about her mother--and about her. When Helen asks for his help to find a missing housemaid, she gets more than she bargains for: an introduction to a secret society battling demons all across Europe and a chance--if she dares take it--for a life so much bigger than the one society has allotted for her.
I loved Lady Helen: she's smart, she's stubborn, she's strong, but she's not perfect. Her struggles to decide the course of her life were very real. Goodman captures the Regency era particularly well--her research is impeccable (as far as I can tell!) and though some readers might find the level of detail slows the story down, I loved it. If you're a fan of Heyer and a bit of dark magic, this might just be the perfect blend.