Redonk Nutshell: Two master spies from countries at war reluctantly team up to escape imprisonment and mixed feelings ensue amid a clash of allegiance to country or their heart

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne is the second book in her Spymaster series, a books set during the tense time of Napoleonic France and Regency England.  I had attempted to read The Forbidden Rose a few months ago and had to put it down, only because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read it.  I picked this up at Border’s because I recognized the series, and I was intrigued by the premise.  And, ok, the cover is purty.

Annique Villiers, aka the Fox Cub, is a renowned French spy.  When our story opens, Annique is being tortured by one of her own, and is being held with two British spies.  When she refuses to give up her information to her captor, he leaves her to stew over his bodily threats.  Annique and her fellow captives, Robert Greyson and Adrian Hawker, team up to escape.  Upon their escape, Greyson turns around and takes Annique prisoner, hoping to take her back to England and convince her to give them her secrets. What Greyson doesn’t count on are Annique’s  lethally graceful moves and cunning skill.  It’s a constant battle to keep her in his clutches.  Meanwhile, while the two are battling it out, they come to realize they have quite a bit in common and are well matched in terms of intelligence and skill.  They end up bonding over their differences, though Annique never relents in her quest to be free of her captors.

She’s pursued by her French enemies and shadowed by the Brits.  When Annique is forced to evaluate her loyalties, she realizes she has daunting decisions to make that could forever change the course of history.

What really makes Bourne’s story wonderful is the gritty adventure.  This doesn’t read like your typical romance.  In fact, it has a distinctive choppy feel, adapted from Annique’s habit of speaking. It works.  She’s blunt and has no qualms speaking her mind.  The real heart of the story is Annique coming to terms with the decisions presented before her:  She is attracted to Greyson, which opens up a whole different can of worms for her.  She holds the key to the French invasion of Britain in her head.

This was a wonderful read.  It’s historically rich and darkly romantic.  This is one of those romance books that manages to be romance but doesn’t really feel like it.  I really enjoyed it, like a breath of fresh air.  I look forward to digging out my copy of The Forbidden Rose, as well as checking out the other books in the series.

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne, 400 pgs, 5/4/10

Rating: B

Romance: 2.5/5       Raunch: 2/5

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