Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander

Book Description:
Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all - a genteel Victorian life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once "Eve," a spy for England's most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss "Sir" prove too tempting....

Adrian Hadley-Attwater is a respectable, dignified gentleman. But even the most proper gentlemen have secrets of their own. Secrets from the rest of the world, from their families, from their wives. Secrets that have a price. Now, as a veil of secrecy frays, a tantalizing game of cat and mouse will test the bounds of unfailing love...

I had high hopes for this spy romance when I first read the blurb about it.  Second in a new series by this new to me author, Victoria Alexander, I bought the first book in the series His Mistress by Christmas, and read it first.  I love, love, loved it.  In His Mistress by Christmas, we first meet the hero and heroine of My Wicked Little Lies, Eve and Adrian Hadley-Attwater.  They seem like a respectable and happily married couple.  Was My Wicked Little Lies as good?  No, I'm afraid not, which is a pity since I'd been looking forward to it so much!  It just didn't have the same allure as His Mistress. The premise was good,  involving the hero and heroine who have been married for two years.  They're still very much in love and looking forward to a long life together with children and the the whole nine yards.  But, there's a catch.  Each of them has kept a big secret from the other.  Eve was a spy and Adrian - well, he was "Sir" her spymaster.  But she doesn't know that.  As you can guess, a rogue spy is out to reveal the truth about who "Sir" is and Eve must go back into the spy business to keep the secret from her oh so respectable husband, having no idea, of course that he is "Sir!"

Everything about this book should have made it a winner but for some reason there just wasn't enough chemistry between Eve and Adrian to keep me interested in them.  Here they've had a great marriage so far and the next thing you know it's unraveling at the seams because they're playing all sorts of mind games with each other!   Adrian fell in love with Eve when he was "Sir" over two years ago.  They corresponded as spy and spymaster yet never met personally.  He leaves the business when he inherits his title as an Earl and "courts" Eve as if he never knew who she really was or what she did.  Now he gets the harebrained notion to discover whether or not she would have fallen in love with "Sir" back then.  What would happen if "Sir" came back into her life, would she fall for him, despite being happily married?   Adrian decides to "woo" her as Sir by sending her red roses, etc. and winds up making a mess of things.  Eve winds up moving out and Adrian, who is supposed to be this intelligent man of the world becomes this clod who wants to see if his wife is really in love with him or not!

Now, don't get me wrong, overall I enjoyed this romance, but I did not feel committed to the hero and heroine and sort of felt they deserved their just desserts.  Their lies and games with one another, though it had its amusing moments seemed off and implausible.   Adrian barging into an hotel room bent on capturing Eve in the act with another man, only to find the other man in the arms of someone else was pretty funny, but then when Eve finds out about it, she decides to keep the knowledge to herself and teases Adrian instead.  Ordinarily this should have been fun, but it only wound up being sort of mean in my eyes.  Of course, they do love one another dearly and Eve forgives Adrian in the end, but there is much groveling on his part for being such an ass and not trusting her.  And, of course, there's nothing like the fear of death to put things into perspective when Adrian is kidnapped.  Still, I'm sorry, spymasters just don't grovel!  Adrian should have known better!

Another matter I had problems with was the side story of Max, the current spymaster who replaced Adrian, and Celeste, Eve's assistant and former cohort in the spy business.  They're having a secret fling together.  I couldn't quite get my bearings on her and whether I was for her affair with Max or not.  It was a bit unorthodox and again, all these secrets! I guess they go with the territory in a romance about former spies.  Still, I found this side story an unneeded distraction from the main story.  Were the love scenes between Max and Celeste thrown in because there were virtually none regarding Eve and Adrian?

Overall, My Wicked Little Lies wasn't bad, but it just wasn't as good as it's predecessor.  Writing about married couples and keeping the romance sizzling is a tall order.  I must give credit to the author for giving it a go.  In any event, I am eager to read the rest of the series, for I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the Hadley-Attwaters! 


P.S. One of the things that attracted me to this story in the first place is the use of "Sir" as the title of Eve's former boss and spymaster. It was very much like the use of "Sir" in A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man, another book I simply loved!   I find the use of "Sir" erotic in both instances.  If you liked that book, you'll get a kick out of it here too!

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