Highland Spy by Madelyn Martin

Highland Spy by Madelyn Martin

Highland Spy by Madelyn MartinHighland Spy by Madelyn Martin

Series: #1 Mercenary Maidens
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Diversion Books on January 10, 2017
Pages: 354
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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Connor Grant is in search of a lady. Not a bride, but a woman to become a skillful and seductive spy in the service of King James. In addition to being the King's personal assassin, Connor heads a group of female spies who aid him in his work, women with nothing left to lose.

Ariana Fitzroy is the perfect mark. Destitute, orphaned, and completely alone, she's missed her chance at an advantageous match at court and cheats at cards to survive. When Connor catches her in the act, he threatens to expose her, unless she joins his elite roster of spies.

She agrees and is whisked away to a deserted Scottish castle to begin her training. Ariana quickly takes to her lessons in seduction, deception, and hand-to-hand combat, but less easy to fight are her feelings of lust toward the ruggedly handsome Connor, feelings she suspects may be reciprocated.

When Connor recruits her help on a mysterious task, the pair must work together to track a dangerous target. But Ariana suspects Connor isn't telling her everything — not just about the mission, but also about his past. Will the secrets between them threaten their mission? And will they be able to fight their attraction as they wonder who they can trust?

Connor Grant has the task of recruiting and training lady spies to serve the king even while performing deadly missions at the king’s orders.  He feels that he has sold a piece of his soul to do this in exchange for the change to restore him as the laird of his ancestral lands even as he works hard to care for and protect the troubled and vulnerable women that come under his care.

Ariana Fitzroy is reduced to cheating at cards to make ends meet after the deaths of her parents and brothers leaving her alone in the upper echelons of London society and court.  She is discovered and given a choice of being outed as a cheat or being trained as a spy.  She opts for the world of intrigue and not without some excitement for something new that may give her purpose once again.

Ariana is eager and a natural at the skills she needs to acquire.  She enjoys her time with the other women and particularly as Connor is her trainer.  She is no longer alone and starts to wonder what it would be like to be with Connor.

Connor learns the identity of his next two marks.  One is troublesome as the man was once his childhood friend, but also son of the man who attacked and killed his father and people.  Even still, Connor finds it difficult to believe the man has become a traitor to the crown.  And what of this attraction he feels for Ariana?  She is in his care and he is honor-bound not to take advantage not to mention he has nothing to offer her.

This was a first time with a new to me author and it was also the beginning of a new and exciting series.  I loved the blend of espionage, history, and romance.  There is a well-drawn and engaging cast of characters with Connor, the women spies, and a few others.  The setting of London society and then rugged Scotland of the 17th century was colorful and interesting.  But the two pronged plot of espionage missions and the slow building passionate romance was the best part.

Connor is an honorable and deeply troubled man after all he has been through.  The past weighs on him heavily as does the responsibility he feels toward the women in his care.  He hates that he was forced to coerce them during their weak moments into the King’s service and he works extra hard to make sure they are safe and equipped for their new lives.  He yearns for Ariana and gives in to his attraction, but when he tries to do the honorable thing, he ends up hurting her because she has her own issues of the past.

Ariana is vulnerable because she is a lady alone without prospect or resources so she makes her own.  The cheating is wrong, but is a necessity.  She is relieved to be caught and offered a new life.  The world that she enters is tough and filled with danger, but it suits her.  She loves having the other women around her and grows to feel more than gratitude toward Connor.  She’s rather impulsive and has a few stupid moments where she’s more lucky than right.  She lets her past of being abandoned by others really do a number on her so that it dictates her actions with Connor.

The writing style and overall story kept me reading steadily and then riveted for the big ending.  Some shockers there and had me very satisfied with the book and eager to continue on.  So, I can easily recommend it to historical romance lovers who like suspense, a dashing and lethal hero, and a bold heroine.

My thanks to Diversion Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF MADELINE MARTIN
“Readers will greatly admire Martin’s ability to capture their attention with the combined allure of romance and the swift-moving elements of suspense.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“Martin’s Highlander series is filled with interesting characters and is an enjoyable read.”
RT Book Reviews
 
“This is the first book by Madeline Martin and after blasting through this story, I have very high expectations of her career.”
—Kilts and Swords
Deception of a Highlander is enchanting, adventurous, and down-right breathtaking!”
—Literary Junkie Extraordinaire
“An awesome story by a new author and one I look forward to reading again. A must read!”
—My Book Addiction Reviews

About Madelyn Martin

Madeline Martin is a USA Today Bestselling Author who lives in Jacksonville, FL with her two daughters and menagerie of pets. Her hobbies include rock climbing, running to Mud Runs, and just about anything exciting she can do without getting nauseated. She grew up in Europe and still enjoys traveling overseas whenever she can find the time to get away. Her favorite place to visit thus far: Scotland. She is the author of three Scottish Historical novels: Deception of a Highlander, Possession of a Highlander, and Enchantment of a Highlander. Visit her online at www.madelinemartin.com.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • gah i only just heard about this book this week, my grabby hands want it so bad. I am glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, makes me that much more excited

    • This was one dropped into my lap and the second I read the blurb I was eager. Hope you get the chance, Lily!

  • Well that sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

    • Yeah, suspense, spies, assassins, and the highlands were pretty exciting stuff. You’re welcome, Mary!

  • Oooo, lady spy! I’d not heard of this book before! The cheating aspect is odd but I think I understand the rationale. I love historical romance novels featuring a spy (or both are spies!), so this sounds fun overall. Great review, Sophia!

    Have a fantastic weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Yeah, she cheated to earn money to live on and care for the family servants, but it was definitely an interesting choice rather than say paid companion or governess. 🙂 Guess she was meant for the gray area of spying. Hope you get the chance at it, Alyssa!

      You have a great weekend, too, with hopefully not too much school work.

  • Yay! Glad to see you enjoyed this! I’m thinking I need to bump this up on my TBR list! I’m liking the sounds of the characters (yay badass heroine!)! Lovely review, Sophia Rose!

    • Oh yeah, she really comes into her own in this story and makes an awesome spy. I really did enjoy it, Cyn. Hope you get the chance soon. I really want all the women’s stories now.

  • So it looks like this one pushed a few lines. It’s definitely unlike the usual histrom we come across.

    Happy weekend!

    • Yes, not the typical historical romance. If it weren’t for the lack of magic and dragons, I’d swear I was in a fantasy romance just from the way it felt. Pretty snazzy stuff going on and I can’t wait to read more of the series.

  • Oh, I like Ariana! She’s badass, and practical, I think. And the blend of historical romance and spies is awesome!

    • Oh yeah! I think a few more of these lady spy stories will be pretty awesome for the same reasons, too. This was fun, but as you said, her character is interesting.

  • That title just grabs my attention right from the start. Spies and Highlanders sounds like an interesting combination. I saw this one on you home page and just read another review for it and I knew I had to check out your review. I’ll have to add this one to my to-read list as the blend of espionage with a historical romance sounds well done. Great review!

    • Oh yes, I think you’d enjoy this one, Lola. I think each book in the series will be about each of her fellow lady spies, too. Fun Highland setting and women spies.

  • Ooh, this one sounds interesting. Highlanders and Spies sounds too good to resist.

    • No kidding, Angela! I just hadta when I saw that blurb. 🙂