I avoid spy stories. If I pick up a book and the blurb has the words “spy” or “spying”, I stop reading and put it down, so when this book starting getting “A” and “OMG” reviews from all sides, I didn’t even bother reading them; no spy stories for me. My biggest reason is because if the couple is on opposite sides of a conflict, the constant cat-and-mouse and one-upmanship games are wearing, especially if the heroine is constantly outmaneuvered by the hero, ending with her abandoning the Dark Side to be with the hero (England if she is French or America if she is a Tory).
However, one day I was in the bookstore, saw the last copy and for whatever reason, bought it, and brought it home to languish for a year. When I found it on the shelf, a month ago, I was surprised to see that I bought it new. That is how much I don’t read spy stories.
I will say right now that this was a great book. It didn’t send me into raptures and cause me to re-read it right away like some other books, but I did re-read particular scenes. Here is the basic plot: When English spymaster Grey discovers that his fellow prisoner Annique is the Fox Cub, a French spy who may have the plans laying out Napoleon’s invasion of England, he is determined to get her to England by any means necessary. Annique was already on her way to the French spymaster in England when Leblanc, who wants to prevent her revealing secret about an event in Bruges, captured her.
Once Grey and Annique reach England, their lives settle into a strange domesticity after a slightly creepy scene in which Annique is made aware of just how valuable a catch she would be to all sides of the conflict. The revelations of the secrets held by the characters were unexpected, and left me angry for Annique, but to me, that means that I connected and sympathized with the characters, the mark of a good storyteller.
At the beginning of the story, Grey and Annique (and Doyle and Adrian) recognize that an attraction exists between them, but also realize that they are in a position to act on this, but their conversations and body language speak volumes about their growing feelings for each other. The manner in which they spoke was also very natural; their speech patterns are indicated by how they speak instead of what they say. There was nary a “Thees ees what I am saying, comprenez-vous?” to be seen. Thank you, Joanna Bourne. Thank you also for your wonderful secondary characters, Doyle and Adrian, who both engaged me enough to want to know their backstories.
The one “Are you serious?” moment for me came near the end. I found it hard to suspend my disbelief for this particular event, especially considering the time and place of it. It seemed better suited for Chicago in the 1930s than Napoleonic England.
I did enjoy this book enough to immediately request the second book in the series from my library, and I got it today! It’s not about Adrian, but I can live with that. Grade: A.
This review is apart of the TBR Challenge and please, if you haven’t already, visit with the other participants in this endeavor. Warning, the temptation to buy will be strong, so becareful.