I have followed this series for many years from the tales of the original Company of Rogues to the loosely connected honorary Rogues like this one. I had a good time with this story from the start and it just got better when I realized I was going to get a spy story- love historical spy stories, but this one came with a twist. The hero has infiltrated a dangerous bloody revolutionary group who wants to bring the guillotine and bloody Reign of Terror to England like what happened in France. Totally attention-grabbing, right? I loved the exciting plot, the engaging suspense, and the sparkling banter along with a setting and backdrop that was refreshingly unique in Historical Romance.
This one is part of a series as I mentioned above, but the author writes them so that they can be read as standalones or in a pinch, out of order. I’ve read them pretty much out of order and did alright though I imagine I would have gotten even more out of them if I’d read them in order. Oddly enough, the only one of this series I haven’t read yet is the first one. (Insert eyeroll here)
But anyway, on to the story.
The book begins with a fun, flirty and mischievous scene of an impoverished noblewoman, Lady Hermione Merrydew, on her way with the others in her family to visit a dying great-uncle hoping he’ll will his money to them. As she readies for sleep in a coaching inn along the way, her room is invaded by a man she has secretly thought about since the night of her first ball and he almost gave her a kiss. He was unforgettable and now even though she suspects he is a thief, she still wants that kiss. And then, she ends up in a dangerous adventure that leaves her a target alongside her erstwhile roguish lover.
Mark Thayne recognizes the woman who was once the girl he shared a memorable night with at a ball before he left for Spain to fight Napoleon and his army. He is still attracted to her and their long awaited kiss proves it only his life isn’t suited to romance. He must get the papers he stole to someone so that a dangerous revolutionary planning an explosion and a revolution can be stopped. He accidentally makes those after him notice Hermione and see her as a threat so now he must protect her even while trying to do his duty.
The author always manages to write a good adventuresome tale that balances neatly the romance and a swirl of activity around it. The pace was good though I admit to wanting it to hustle up a few times in the middle. I liked the attention to detail from the social unrest, to the scientific bits about the bombmaking, and even the medical advancements of the times. The author included a note about the research she did and that the background of the story is based on some similar historical circumstances which I thought was a nice extra.
The characters were fleshed out nicely and I enjoyed both Hermione and Mark. They took turns narrating most of the story and their personalities were evident in the different styles of thinking. Hermione is the more prominent and the author spends more time on her. She struggles with having always been a person of noble stature without any money to support it and her family being almost a joke to others of their class and she likes to think of herself as sensible even though she has a romantic flare for adventure. Mark is also a product of his upbringing. He cares deeply about his work because his French aristocratic mother was a survivor of the Reign of Terror and all her relations were killed. The experience left her messed up and Mark will do anything to keep history from repeating itself on English soil. He has never lived a normal life and worries that even though he loves Hermione that he won’t be able to settle down when his last mission is complete. But if anyone can tempt him from his dangerous life, its Hermione. These two are a passionate pair and combust anytime they are near one another.
The secondary characters like Hermione’s Great-Uncle, Mark’s friend, Braydon, and the others were very present and welcome. I loved the side stories going on there and I look forward to Braydon’s story in the next book. His need for excitement rivals that of any of the regular Rogues. Speaking of…they do appear in the story though mostly Hawk, Nicholas, Arden, and Beth. I always get ready for some action and mischief when the Rogues appear and it’s neat how they all stick together and help each other. It was humorous how Hermione and then Mark reacted to the Rogues brand of ‘help’.
Another enjoyable installment to the Company of Rogues series that I happily recommend to historical romance fans who like a bit of action and a touch of spice to their stories.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.