Monday, September 21

Joanna Bourne: The Spymaster's Lady

A British spymaster must enter France and bring back a brilliant, dangerous and elusive French spy who knows the details of Napoleon’s plans to invade England.
When the two of them end up in the same dungeon they form an uneasy alliance in order to escape the French secret police. Once they achieve freedom the French spy wants to go her own way but the British spymaster is determined to bring her in.
The pair is hunted through France and the French spy manages to escape both her British captor and her murderous countrymen. But her freedom is short lived. She is recaptured and finds herself in Britain where the two rivals become lovers while she plans her escape.
She soon learns that the British are not the only ones interested in what she knows and that the French have issued an order for her death.
She is torn between loyalty to France and the safe haven offered by her lover for the price of Napoleon’s plans. Making the only decision she can live with she escapes the British and presents herself to the French bargaining for her life by naming traitors to the French cause.
Her lover finds her at the French spy safe house and convinces his French counterpart to release her into his custody claiming, falsely, that she has been a British plant the entire time. Deals are done.
She is free to choose her own future. Naturally it will include her British spymaster.
This story is what happens when a great plot meets fantastic characterisation and good research. I loved it.
The heroine was intelligent, competent, talented and determined. The hero was pure alpha but believably vulnerable. There was a little bit of the victor’s version of history (the British spies didn’t use indiscriminate torture like the French spies) but not so much as to be completely unbelievable of the period.
There are a number of surprise twists that are unexpected but not unbelievable. And the ending got the heroine neatly out of a seemingly impossible moral dilemma.
This is historical romance as it should be written.-Lynn

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