Title: The Spymaster’s Lady
Author: Joanna Bourne
Review Number: 6
Stand alone or series: Stand Alone
Summary: Amazon.com says – 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
Why did I read the book: Rave reviews, recommended by everyone in romanceland . I think this is the book every romance lover is reading this month.
I begin with a confession and a plea. The confession: this is my first spy novel so I read this book without any expectations. The plea: I urge you to forget about the ghastly cover and get this book now for this is truly a masterful work.
Annique Villiers is a French spy who, as the book opens, is being held prisoner in a French dungeon by a couple of villains who believe she holds the so called Albion Plans – Napoleon’s plan to invade England and they want it. She does know the secret plan (as it is plain from the very beginning) and her inner struggle to decide what to do with them is the underlying plot for most of the novel – will she keep quiet or will she warn the British about it? If she does tell the British she will be avoiding death and destruction but at the cost of giving away France’s secrets (number of weapons, men, ships etc) and this is why she is torn. She may not agree with Napoleon but she is French and she is loyal.
But as it turns out she is sharing the cell with two British spies: Grey and Adrian (who has a gunshot wound and is barely alive) and together they manage to escape from the prison but Grey knowing that the Annique is this ultra famous spy, plans to capture her and take her to England as soon as they are out of the dungeon. And hence beings a game of cat and mouse where we are never sure who is the mouse or who the cat is. They are both extremely skilled in their profession, cunning and smart but eventually Grey is the winner for he has the only thing that can subjugate Annique – physical strength.
And so they go about trying to leave France, fighting common foes and fighting each other all the way. Are they allies or enemies? The boundaries of their relationship keep moving as they go along – there is the undeniable attraction between Grey and Annique as well as their growing respect for each other’s skills .
And what skills! This is where I say that this book is unbelievably COOL. There is no other word for it. As they shift from French and English to The Courtesan, to The Innocent, to The Master , to The Seducer, through all the fighting sequences that were so thrilling, my heart skipped a few beats a couple of times, I must admit.
But enough about the plot – I cannot talk about much of it as to not spoil the many twists – there is one in particular that left me gasping “Holy Guacamole, did I just read that? Are my eyes deceiving me?” – for where this book really shines is in its writing.
The storytelling is amazing but the writing is simply superb. Joanna Bourne managed to convey the accents of each person and how they speak in such a way, that you have no doubts about who is talking and when. You read Annique’s speech and thoughts and you know that she is French. There is also such a cadence in her writing, it is almost like reading poetry:
“He did not touch her, but something in her body reached out and greeted his body as if the two were old friends who had not seen one another for a long time. She did not like it that her body chatted to his in this fashion”.
I was awed by the writing, captivated by the heroine, thrilled by the plot , intrigued by all the secondary characters and I can not praise this book high enough. It is hard to believe this is her first book and I have only one question: what’s next?
Notable quotes/parts: There are many memorable parts but I just loved the sequence where they are still in France being chased by Leblanc’s men and they must separate – Annique goes with Adrian to hide in a monastery and Grey goes with Doyle to try to loose the men. I love the whole scene, the action, the feelings, the conversation between Annique and Adrian (by the way, can I please please please have Adrian’s story?) but the best part was when Grey and Annique realized they wanted each other so he tells her to stay alive and that he will be back and not let her go. This was a very powerful scene and my heart was racing and it reminded me of one of my favorite movie sequences, from the Last of the Mohicans where they must separate and he tells her to stay alive no matter what and “I will find you!”. Pure heaven.
Additional thoughts: I have a girl crush in Annique. I am usually a “hero” kind of girl which means that I relate to the heroes much more than to the heroines. But Annique is amazing – she is ever so resourceful, funny, cunning and smart. Plus, I really want to read more spy stories now.
Verdict: BUY it now. I am keeping mine for sure and looking forward to the next one.
Reading Next: Charming the Prince by Teresa Medeiros