Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne



Book Description:
SHE'S NEVER MET A MAN SHE COULDN'T DECEIVE...

She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She's played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit...

UNTIL NOW.

British spymaster Robert Grey must enter France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful—and dangerous—Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable. They flee, pursued every step of the way by ruthless authorities, caught in a net of secrets and lies. As the fates of nations hang in the balance, Grey and Annique fight the passion that flares between them—forbidden, impossible, and completely irresistible...


This is another romance that everyone's been talking about, and I feel like I'm the last person I know to have read it! It had a well thought out and intricate plotline (even though I am a bit weary of spies during Regency times) and there were lots of blind alleys and twisty turns and a DaVinci Code sort of revelation at the ending. I had an inkling of what the secret was and wasn't too far off the money. For her first effort in upteen years, this was a pretty damn good story!

The basic premise is the old spy vs. spy story. Annique is a super spy for France that has a photographic memory. Although since photographs weren't around yet, all they knew was she had this amazing memory or retaining everything in her head that she's read. At one point she starts skimming through The Book of Common Prayer since she figures it can't hurt to have it in case it can be useful for her down the road. I couldn't help thinking, her mind is like a Kindle or ebook reader! Just download it and you've got it forever! Pretty snazzy!

Anyway, back to the story...

Annique meets Grey, super British spymaster in a French prison and with other British cohorts, a wounded Adrian and man of many identities, Doyle, they escape and make their way through the French countryside. Grey instantly realizes who Annique is upon first meeting her, and he wants her knowledge of the Albion Plans (invasion plans of England planned by Napoleon), though he doesn't realize they're memorized and all in her head. He hopes she will lead him (unawares) to where he thinks she's hidden them. One thing leads to another and these two spies fall for one another - an impossible situation. Annique is a very cool heroine. She's like a female superhero, she can do almost anything. She's smart, courageous, resourceful, fights well, sneaky as anything, and can make a weapon out of almost nothing. But, her Achilles Heel seems to be Grey and then later, Robert, who he masquerades as and tricks her. I won't give it away, but it's a masterful, and somewhat, complicated plotline (in fact I was a bit confused at one point towards the end, and had to close my eyes and think about it, to actually understand what happened! LOL! Dumb me).

One of my favorite moments was when Annique, Adrian and Grey are traveling in a coach toward the French coast, heading for England. Annique is drugged and has these traitorously romantic moments in Grey's arms while asleep. Then she finds at one point while waking up groggy and sleepy they must suddenly disguise themselves as Germans and are stopped by gendarmes and questioned. I loved it how they all easily slipped into speaking German flawlessly and Annique has to pose as Grey's wife who has morning sickness. Grey must act the part of a priggish husband who unsuccesfully tries to convince her it's all in her head in front of a young embarrassed French soldier. In another scene, I also really admired the way the bullet removal sequence was written. Well described and had me on the edge of my seat!

As far as a romance goes, this wasn't a super sexy beach book, but it had it's moments (although I still say sex and bathtubs just really don't work that way in real life!) It was a very clever, lively, action packed romance with fight scenes, deceptions, gunshots, evil villains and many secondary characters that were interesting and well developed. Plus, an exciting and illuminating last 25 pages leading up to the big secret and conclusion! A slam dunk and a pleasure to read!

4.5/5

11 comments:

whitelady3 said...

Bah, I had this book on my hand yesterday and didn't bought it! A Breath of Snow and Ashes caught my attention while I was skimming through this book and then I completely forgot this one! :P

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Well, it's not going anywhere, you can always pick it up another time!

Barbara said...

Great review of the story!! I actually just got this book! I'm looking forward to it.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Barbara, I'm sure you'll love it!

VampFanGirl said...

Great Review Julie! Don't worry you're not the last person read this novel. I've had it in my TBR pile for months! It's positively shameful that I haven't read it yet with all the fabulous praise it's received and continues to receive. I must remedy this, especially after reading about your favorite moments. The book sounds like it has a sense of humor. :)

Happy Reading,
VampFanGirl

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Thanks for commenting, yes there were some comedic parts to the book, though there is a lot of tension and drama in it as well. Annique and Grey are a good match!

Heather said...

I loved this book! I read My Lord and Spymaster for the winter reading challenge. It was also really good, but not as good as The Spymaster's Lady. Maybe it was and I am just being partial to my very fond memory of this book. Unfortunately I wasn't blogging when I read this book so I can't go back and compare. sigh. It is a definite must reread for me!!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Heather, I have a feeling it's a good re-read in any case just because the first time you're so unaware of so much that's really happening in the story, I'd like to re-read it just to pick up on all the obvious clues, since you already know the big secrets - it was so well done! (sorry, did that make sense - trying to give away any spoilers!)

Karen Henry said...

Just wanted to note that Jo Bourne, author of SPYMASTER'S LADY (and its sequel, MY LORD AND SPYMASTER), is a regular contributor on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum where Diana Gabaldon hangs out. Julie, since you enjoyed the book, you might consider leaving the author a comment there. I'm sure she would love to hear from you!

Karen Henry

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Thanks for the idea, I've never commented over there before (I must admit, I'm a big intimidated by it!) but I'll consider it! I didn't know she was over there too. I have such hero worship of these authors, frankly, it's difficult for me to actually "meet" them for fear of sounding too much like a gusher!

Karen Henry said...

Julie:

I can understand the feeling, believe, me (I felt just the same way in the beginning). But let me assure you (in my capacity as Section Leader of Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve forum) that we are always delighted to welcome new fans over there. And I am sure that both Diana and Jo would agree with me. They're human beings, too, just like everybody else. :-)

Anyway, it's totally up to you. Just something to consider.

Karen

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