I think I sometimes like flawed books better than more perfect, polished ones. Like Blindspot, this one I just listened to--it was a lot of fun. It tried to do too much and be too much, but I love it just for making the effort.
A big reason to like the book--I found the hero totally appealing. He was a wonderful rogue/goober. The heroine and her journey made sense, usually. You forgave her for almost killing herself with poverty and pain instead of making easier choices. I don't know why I didn't find her as appealing as the hero when she was the stronger, smarter of the two of them.
The story of the hero's best friend, Alexander, was harder to take but that's because it was much less light-hearted and the best friend (a black man) was more complex. Alexander might not have fit the tone of the story but he was overall a nice change of pace, lemme tell you. Having the best friend be difficult, angry and vain (all for very good reasons) was such a pleasant surprise. I've gotten used to Better Than Human -- and thus less than people--black characters (especially in historicals) and he was sort of a superman, but he was definitely a man and not perfect.
I take it back about him being thoroughly human. He might have occasionally slipped into the role of representing every strong black man who's been intellectual repressed but that's more interesting than the usual role. And I did eventually understand why he and the hero were such good friends.
I didn't buy a few things. The big reveal scene in the mystery was lame-o. The pre-revolutionary war stuff was eh, and the puns and historical reader in-jokes were sorta silly. Although a lot of the secondary characters were more fun than they usually are in that era. The printer for instance---although the winsome young pickpocket was annoying and the hero not figuring out the heroine is female went on a lot longer than was believable--no, wait that was part of the joke I think.
This historical tried to pack it all in. Mystery, abolitionists, more murder, blackmail, revolutionary war, women's rights (sort of ) along with romance and a romp of a woman dressed as a man. I did like the fact that hero, sexually attracted to her even when he thought she was a man didn't freak out about the Oh, I'm a HETEROSEXUAL not a nancy boy! thing at all. He was more worried about the fact that he was hitting on his very young employee. Might have been 21st century concerns, but they were convincing.
The book had heart. And it kept me interested I spent a lot of two days trapped to my mp3 player. If I assigned stars to things, which I don't....well. I don't. But it would get a lot 'em if I did. Except, yeah, it's a real mixed bag. Some parts would get blazing huge stars standing ovations. Others would get a pebble. That's much more interesting than a thoroughly competent book, I think.