Reviewed by May
Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone, including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success with these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy. She believes that she will finally have the danger and excitement that her marriage has never afforded her until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this Regency romance, no one is who they seem, not even her own husband.
This is the second installment in Shana Galen’s Lord & Lady Spy series, however it stands alone beautifully and reading the first book in the series is not a requirement. Right up front I should tell you though that where book one was funny, interesting, and charming this book was none of those things. If the premise sounds familiar it is loosely inspired by the movie True Lies.
I actually think my biggest problem in this book was that I was comparing it to the movie and to the first book in the series the whole time. My expectations were really high on this one based on my past enjoyment, and they just were not met with this book.
First of all, I disliked the spy hero tremendously. I never felt that he redeemed himself for all of his selfishness and the way he views women in general and his wife in particular.
He’d known from the first she was madly in love with him. And he’d known her feelings for him would work to his advantage. She would not question his frequent absences; she would not question his secretiveness or his unexplained injuries. Added to that, he knew from the start she would make him an excellent baroness and be a good mother to their children.
He is so very sure of himself as a man and spy, I found it annoying. I did not find what Elinor was so in love with about him, nor did I ever feel that he truly earned her respect and love back.
Now he would have to win Elinor back – a feat he was certain he could accomplish. She had been easy to win initially. All he’d had to do was to smile and ask her to dance, and she was his. He could charm her again.
Elinor I did enjoy, and I thought that the way she was portrayed at the start as a woman who has hit her breaking point was done brilliantly. I could really understand and see how and why she was acting, and that she was simply not going to take the emotional and physical negligence anymore.
Years of whiling away endless hours, nodding to sleep in the vestibule, wearing her best gowns for the sole benefit of the servants, had made her bitter. Winn was never going to change. She did not want to be bitter about the truth. She wanted to escape it – do something exciting and absorbing so she would not have to remember what her real life entailed.
So, Elinor sets things in motion and does so with such confidence, I couldn’t help but like her as a character.
“I am a mother, not a corpse. I do not want to look like one.”
As you can imagine – Elinor finally getting herself together and acting like an independent woman instead of the love sick wife always waiting for Winn at home catches his attention – and gets things in motion.
However that motion that gets going at the start never really had somewhere to go. Winn runs around being jealous and thinking about what an ass he’s been – while still acting like an ass. Elinor finds herself with plenty of action and adventure, and having to step up and really be the woman she claims to want to be. Meanwhile there are bad guys running about in seemingly random fashion, and supporting characters pop on and off the pages.
The bottom line here is that it’s an OK book. Shana Galen is a good storyteller, and while this is not her best story it definitely did have its entertaining moments. If Winn had not been so unlikeable to me, if he had more redeeming characteristics perhaps I would have enjoyed this more. Had the story or romance relationship been more compelling and interesting; that also would have helped tremendously. Despite the set up there was a lack of tension, a lack of urgency that I need in a story like this. That said – I’m hoping there will be a book three in this series, I look forward to seeing her next inspiration and for the story to continue.