Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Spymasters Lady by Joanna Bourne

Sweet and tender historical romance. While this novel regularly shows it is plotted oh so cleverly it is still not in the same class as Rendevouz by Amanda Quick. Which also deals with spying but is much more emotionally satisfying to read.

Basically. Annique the French spy lurches from one dangerous situation to another. She’s a strange character really. She believes she has developed a technique of chattering aimlessly to bamboozle whoever is interrogating her and most of the time it works. But not with the guy she loves. He sees right through her fabrications. And a couple of times Annique reveals an excellent assessment of the character of the hero and his friend. There are some genuine surprises in the novel but they are not nasty so I will not reveal them. There are also far too many unbelievable coincidences which border on ridiculous. I’m glad that neither Annique or Grey suffered any real harm (physical or emotional) but that fact contributed to the fairy-tale feel of the story. She is like a Napoleonic Superwoman. See in the dark, do surgery, escape from dungeons. But amazingly unsuspicious about the death of her mother. And even when her nominal enemies deconstruct her entire belief system she remains astoundingly passive. The nice thing about Annique is that she is young and very positive about life despite all the bad war things she has witnessed. (And she only injures and refuses to kill…even her enemies.)

The cover is completely misleading. This novel is 100% about Annique. There are no scenes that feature the hero without the presence of Annique. And I couldn’t really discern the skills that enabled Grey to attain the position of British Head of Section. Often Grey seemed in danger of being overshadowed by the character of William Doyle and his wife. Even Adrian sometimes. And surely in those times there was not the separation between military intelligence and civilian spying of modern times? So I didn't really understand how Grey could defy Reams and get away with it.

I really enjoyed how Annique fell in love with both Robert and Grey. Even though not recognizing them as the same man was one of those ridiculous contrivances that I wrote about earlier.

However. This book is a lovely read. There is some quite affecting nookie but not until way past halfway into the story. Readers need to be aware that much of the 'romance' is built up during locked-room scenes.

The true effect of this story was to remind me of just how much I loved Rendevouz. I think both novels may even take place in around the same historical time frame.

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