Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Spy by Celeste Bradley

Book Description:
James Cunnington has a pressing mission at hand: He must find the daughter of a missing code breaker for the Liar's Club, a man suspected of turning traitor for Napoleon. Time is of the utmost concern. While it is evident that his ward's new tutor has something to hide, James in unaware that the woman he seeks now resides under his very roof... Desperate and near destitute, Philippa Atwater must don gentleman's clothing to pass herself off as a scholarly young tutor. Her clever--if itchy--disguise allows her time to pursue her quest to find her father, ruthlessly abducted by French spies. Closely guarding the cryptic notebook he entrusted to her care, she senses danger all around her--even in the home of her roguishly handsome new employer, James Cunnington. Now Philippa is about to discover that the desire can be as lethal as a well-aimed bullet...

This is number three in the "Liar's Club" series by this author and I liked it. I didn't love it, but it was pretty good. I must admit, when I read the first in this series, it was the first Regency spy romance I'd ever read and I loved it! It was all new and exciting to me (plus it was a great book - The Pretender.)

But, I digress.

Now that I've read several more of these types of books, I'm getting a little tired of this genre, yet I want to finish this series, so I'm valiantly forging on!

The Spy is the story of Phillippa Atwater. A young and beautiful redhead who has been on the run fleeing Napoleon's men. They have abducted her father, a renown cryptographer, who was a member of the secret "Liar's Club" in London. They want him for his expertise in writing codes. Phillippa is destitute by the time she gets to London and the one man she thought could help her is now dead. Before her father was abducted, he told her one thing, to paraphrase, "keep an eye on James Cunnington." Not knowing what this might mean, she's not sure if her father meant James is a friend or foe, but whatever he is, he's the key to how she might be able to find her father and free him.

In this world of spies and treachery, it's hard to tell the difference between who is good and who is evil. The common thread and theme throughout the book is one of mistaken identities and the guilt of one man. James Cunnington, a spy formerly known as "the Griffin" is trying to come to grips with the fact that he had allowed himself to fall prey to a beautiful, yet deadly woman who captured and tortured him in order to reveal who some of the club's other members were. Systematically, these members were found and destroyed. James can't live with the guilt of what he did and has nightmares over it, and the never ending and all consuming need for revenge to get back at the woman who led him down this road. How will he react to the fact that another beautiful woman has come into his life to entice him in the guise of a harem dancer? He seems to be susceptible to this sort of thing...

Despite the underlying serious tone of the book, it is a romance after all, and once I got past the slow start and build up of our characters it turned into a good read and the romance aspect of it really kicked in - Ms. Bradley outdid herself on heightening the sexuality between her hero and heroine by having Phillippa masquerade as a skinny young man who becomes a tutor to the adopted son of James Cunnington.

The two of them become friends, Phillippa is now Philip Waters and James decides to take him under his wing and make him "more of a man" when he's not tutoring his irascible, yet adorable son, Robbie (who sees right through Phillippa's disguise from the instant he meets her.) There are some entertaining moments throughout the book, one at Gentleman Jackson's Club and at a ball in which 'Philip' becomes the beau of the ball! I also was glad to see the valet, Buttons, who's on the scene again too! Ever helpful with costumes!

But the fly in the ointment is, how does Phillippa deal with the fact that she believes James might want to destroy her father, because he thinks her father has turned traitor and is working for Napoleon of his own will? Not only that, Phillippa is also terribly attracted to him - to the point where she nearly has a most embarrassing moment when she's "checking him out" while he's asleep. She is Philip at the time, and I must say, I was so afraid that James was going to wake up and find this young man ogling his privates! Not exactly what happens, but it's a close call.

I really enjoyed this book. We see some of the characters from the first two books that I liked a lot and there is a little bit of a Shakespeare feel to it, with all the hidden genders. Lots of action in the plot up to the ending which made up for the slow beginning. I was very curious to see how it would all be resolved and how Phillippa would be able to reveal herself to James and her love for him. Of course, there is the usual angst when he finds out, but some very sensual and erotic moments between them, in particular a harem dance of the Seven Veils scene that was very well done.

If spies and romance are your thing, I recommend this series, so far it's pretty good!



Amy C said...

I read the first two in this series a few years ago. I enjoyed The Pretender, and for the most part The Imposter. But it's not my genre that I like to read in, but I didn't know that until I read it. I have the next two books around somewhere.

Kudos to you for sticking with the series even though it's not soemthing you prefer to read! I can't do that :).

Amy C said...

Are you reading Laird of the Mist now? I read that one last year. I love her books. I read her lord trilogy a while ago and I just loved them! I still have A Highlander never Surrenders to read. I've had it pulled out for a few months now, but something always gets in the way :).

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Amy, I'm just so anal sometimes, I "have" to finish the series, just the same way that I can't leave a book unfinished, (unless it's really bad!) I like the books enough, otherwise I wouldn't finish this series, but there are other series I've dropped like a hot potato after the first.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Amy, no not yet, it's next on my list after I finish The Eight which I'm just beginning. I've heard such good things about Laird of the Mist, I'm really looking forward to it! My first book by her.

Amy C said...

Well, I know you'll enjoy Paula Quinn. She's one I'd recommend to anyone who likes Scottish historicals. I look forward to your thoughts :).

The_Book_Queen said...

Great review, like always! I've read all of the books in this series (plus most of her other books) and loved them! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.


Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

TBQ - I hope I do too! So far, none have matched my love for the first one - but I am hopeful!

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