Reviewed by May
Viscount Beauchamp (“Beau” to friends) leads a secret life working for the Order and doing secret work for England that most will never know about. Unfortunately for him, some of his coworkers are friends with a young miss who can’t seem to keep her nose where it belongs. Indeed, the young Carissa considers herself a ‘lady of information’ and can’t help but look into the affairs of other people. One night though, Carissa discovers too much about Beau and finds herself grazed by a bullet, compromised, and engaged to be married to Beau all in the same night.
“Believe me, I’m happy to satisfy your curiosity and my own about how it would be between us whenever you’re ready to ask. But until then, I need a woman, not a little girl. So if you’ll excuse me, love, I have an appointment to keep, with someone who is very much – a woman.”
Are Beau’s secrets too much for the redheaded beauty? Or will Carissa find herself falling in love with the man who is now her husband? Can Beau open up to her and put his trust in her? As the members of an equally secret (but sinister) group threaten his friends and all the Order has worked for, he may have no choice.
“I suppose you expect every woman you meet to be a fool for you and do whatever you say!”
“It would be nice,” he said with an arch shrug.
I was intrigued, delighted, and captivated by the start of this book. We have danger, spies, intrigue, an interesting heroine, and we even have a marriage of convenience (a personal favorite!). The dialogue was delightful and I was glued to each page. Unfortunately, the story and ultimately the characters did not grow on me further past the initial set up, and I was disappointed overall.
My first problem is that this book is weakened by the fact that it is a part of a series. What I mean by this is that as a first time reader it is clear that I would need to read the entire series in order to understand the threat this villainous group poses and why. Also, Beau and Carissa have history and chemistry building that takes place largely off the page. For some genres I understand that worlds need to be built up, but for this straightforward historical romance it didn’t work for me.
My second problem is the relationship dynamic. At one point, Beau is talking about how he needs to bring his wife to heel, needs to get her in line and take the upper hand. Carissa responds by thinking about how she needs to be a better wife and more obedient and such. Now, I kept waiting for something to change, for these characters to change their minds, but they didn’t. Oh, Carissa runs wild and does her thing (and saves the day – go girl!) but we never heard a change of opinion and this bothered me, and brought me to my third problem.
There was no character depth or development – at least none that I noticed. They walk on page one the same as they exit the final scene. There’s no growth, no deep emotion, and there certainly wasn’t enough humor in this book to allow me to excuse the characters that were so predictable and set in their ways.
“Well, it’s not the sort of thing a man discusses with his wife!”
“Well, now!” She turned to him with a mischievous grin. “If the wife happens to be be a lady of information, then the husband would be cruel to keep it from her.”
“You are too much,” he muttered.
If this author released a new book where the heroine and hero were strangers at the start, where they had a more complete relationship cycle, then I’d definitely check this out. Despite my problems with this story, I believe I could very much enjoy this author’s style. I loved her dialogue and story pacing, and I would like to give her another try. This just wasn’t the book for me.