The Undercover Scoundrel by Jessica Peterson #Review

The Undercover Scoundrel by Jessica Peterson #ReviewThe Undercover Scoundrel by Jessica Peterson

Series: #3 The Hope Diamond Trilogy
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Berkley on June 2, 2015
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars  

I suppose if I had my druthers, it would be to have a series start out interesting, continue to get better, and end strong. This trio of stories did just that. This was a unique trio in that these are parallel story lines that intersect much of the time, offer a different aspect, and also a few new scenes unique to the main characters involved.
I will advise folks that though each of these can probably survive as standalones because of the way they are written, the clarity of the over all story will be so much better if the reader starts at the beginning. There is an assumption that the reader already read the others so that set up is more minimal by this point, but the other story lines that cross this one make better sense, and this one’s ending is a spoiler for the other two when it comes to the diamond.

With the understanding that this story is on familiar ground, all, but a couple characters including the hero and heroine are familiar from the first book. If I were to pick out a character from book one that I just had to get his or her story, it would be Henry Lake, the hero of this story. Oh, I thought Lady Caroline was fun, but it was Henry that captured my interest. That all went to the side once I got the prologue and realized just how much more deeply emotional this story was going to be than the others. Henry and Caroline have a history- a tragic one. This book has its light moments, but it is not frivolous like the others. These are two hurting people who lost many years due to Henry’s duty to the Crown and his great love that kept him away from Caroline to keep her safe. She never knew what happened to him for twelve agonizing years and had to assume all the worst while carrying on alone.

The French Blue aka Hope Diamond is what brings all the players from the past and new players from the present together. Henry and Caroline meet and their encounters are charged with emotion and the need to both understand the past, move on from it, and in moving on, know that it wouldn’t be together. Excitement swirls around them as Henry’s mission is to procure the diamond and he uses his old friend Hope to do it. Unfortunately, an unforeseen player in the form of a bored aristocrat messes up their plans and lands everyone involved into the path of danger and danger of destitution as the curse of the diamond rains down on them. Henry now has the job of reacquiring the diamond, sparing with an old enemy, and holding off the French agents set on the gem all while saving Hope, Violet and her family, keeping Caroline’s brother out of trouble, and gaining redemption against his past dealings with Caroline. All in a days work, right?

Caroline was nearly destroyed when Henry left her and she thought he was dead. She doesn’t dare allow for a new chance because he is still duty-bound to the same mission that took him from her before. She does want to understand and know all that she didn’t before and she has secrets of her own that she wants Henry to know before they part on better terms this time. Hopefully. However, a wayward brother, an evil man set on revenge, a cast of colorful exciting characters and a diamond all take her life in a direction she never anticipated and maybe in the end, the diamond will bless and not curse an already cursed-life.

Alright! So a famous cursed diamond, a spy, a caper, a lovely widow, a vengeful enemy, a tragic love affair, and high stakes set against an England at war was the stuff of historical romance lovers dreams here. I picked this up and read it intently in three settings. I choked back emotion a few times and really pulled for this pair to get their happily ever after. This was a very engaging story that kept me hooked. Just one lag moment near the three-quarter mark where I felt the pace forward was stalled, but the pace picked up before it got much beyond noticeable.

The background of the diamond was exciting and intriguing, particularly when I wondered how they would pull everything off with so many enemies and issues stacked against them. But honestly, it was like a buzzing fly at times because I was so engrossed in Henry and Caroline’s love story.
I loved how the author developed the plot on this. Henry’s actions- as good intentioned and heroic as they were- broke them both. The author let them, not only gradually clear the air, but addressed all their emotions honestly. Caroline was hurt, betrayed and angry for twelve years. That doesn’t just go away even in the face of finally getting the truth. The genuine emotions and development were done so well. I can’t praise her enough. Now was I impatient for things to get past all that? Sure! After all the pain, I wanted them to have happiness. And seriously, these two still had that spark of attraction that flamed to life even twelve years later. There’s something to be said for two older, mature adults than two young virgin lovers.

After all the escapades that jewel went on through the first two stories, I thought I wouldn’t be surprised any more. Wrong! The jewel had a few more intriguing adventures in this one and its final hiding place after disappearing a few times is also finally made known with the surprising end to this story. I laughed at the author’s sense of humor with where she left the diamond.

So, this was the final story in a fun trilogy of stories. The madcapness of the first, the light and easy romantic adventure of the second, gave way to this solid intrigue-filled adventure romance that definitely saved the best for last. I heartily recommend this one to Historical Romance lovers.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.

Romance Roundabout #212 HR

Cliche Klatch #127 ‘You Don’t Want to Know’

Historical Romance #49

Books N Tunes #36 Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds Are Forever

 

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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.
  • I do love series that progress the way you just described, I’m adding this one to my list – I’d never heard about this author before 🙂 Thanks for sharing !

    • Yes, I thought the first book got silly though still enjoyable and then the second one was a little more serious with danger and this one left the lighter stuff behind to give a more involved romance and intrigue. The author was new to me before this series. I’ll eventually go back and try her other stuff or pick up what she writes next.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I’m glad that this trilogy got better and better with each book! I love when that happens! This story sounds like it was quite the adventure. You have me curious as to where the diamond finally ended up! I love an author with a sense of human! Wonderful Review Sophia!!!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • Humor is a great ingredient. I’m with you on that, Lindy.

  • Aw yay! I have these on my wishlist. They really do sound fantastic and such pretty covers.

    • Hope you enjoy them when you get the chance. Yeah, these have gorgeous covers. I love how each of them has the diamond in them.

  • Yes for strong endings. I read another series where all of the books were about different couples and the timeline overlapped..it was well done. You have me wanting to add this series to my pile!

  • Sounds exciting and mysteries in this setting is such a delight to read. They get very creative and coming with their investigations because they don’t have the technology we have today. Fab review lady!

    • That is so true. This one isn’t a strong mystery, but a jewel heist caper sort. Still…that diamond does get around. haha!

  • I do love adventure in romance…I haven’t read this series yet, but I just got this book, so I hope to read it soon, especially since you said it can be read as a stand alone.

    • It can survive as a standalone and this is definitely a nice little adventure, Renee. Love Regency spies and the jewel heist caper stuff!

  • Looks like it was a fun romp with not a lot of down time:) Nice review hun!

    • No, not a lot of down time that’s for certain.