This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Meryton Press
Released on January 29, 2016
Cold War Era Espionage, Double Agents, Moles, Tense Forbidden Attraction? Sign Me Up. And bonus, its Jane Austen’s well-loved Pride & Prejudice characters populating such a story which made it icing on a tantalizing layered cake.
The story opens with Elizabeth Bennet following in her father’s footsteps to fulfill her dream of working for the CIA. One rude encounter with premier agent, William Darcy, leaves her not that upset to be assigned to a ticklish first assignment. Darcy is a legend in the shadow community and is up for the chief of station position in Moscow, but there are also disturbing issues that point to him as a turned agent who might be betraying his country.
As Elizabeth spies on the arrogant, yet coolly capable spy, she starts to feel uneasy. Darcy has his defects, but he has done nothing to rouse her suspicions and yet more than one mission has gone belly up. Is he or isn’t he? And if he isn’t, then who is? And why can’t she just write him off as an arrogant jerk instead of her heart racing whenever she is with him? If Elizabeth doesn’t figure out the truth and if Darcy can’t watch their backs, they may not live to figure out that sizzling push and pull they have between them.
What an engaging romantic suspense! While it was fun that it is flavored by Austen’s P&P, I found it a lovely twisting page-turner in its own right. Readers don’t need to be familiar with the classic this one is based on since really all they have to like is a good spy romance. The author didn’t force every scene, character, and plot point to slavishly follow the original and it was a wise decision because this one flowed so much better as a result.
I loved that the author set this one in the Cold War Era which was definitely a time that I associate with the need for intelligence and counter-intelligence work. Defections, double agents, and everyone uneasy about what the other side is doing. There was a nostalgic tone, but there were also intense, tough moments. The setting, backstories, and plot all felt authentic to the time. Darcy and Elizabeth’s parents were part of the Vietnam era and Bay of Pigs fiasco. I liked how the author used fabulous exotic settings and even wrote in some spy gadgetry, codes, and mission work.
The reader can see what the heroine can’t because she is prejudiced and being manipulated so this adds to the tension. And about the heroine, Elizabeth. She is an otherwise intelligent, strong-willed, skilled rookie agent that is compassionate and determined to do her job well, but she let her bruised personal pride blind her so she doesn’t have objectivity. She is attracted to the guy she can’t stand and she is grudgingly impressed by his superior skills and abilities. I enjoyed her fiery nature and respected how she handled being undeceived by the truth. She totally rocked the woman power without a chip on her shoulder.
As to the hero, I love it when one is never quite sure what to think in a thriller or romantic suspense. The writer chose to keep the reader in the know somewhat so this wasn’t the huge twisty surprise part. Darcy was a likable hero. He has enough flaws not to be too perfect, but his strengths make him total weak-knee hero material. I fell for him right along with the reluctant Elizabeth. He has the responsibility to keep doing his job even after he learns that he is under suspicion and there is a mole deep behind his own lines. Getting to his secrets and seeing the truth about him when it came out was an absolute pleasure.
The rest of the cast of characters were interesting and I enjoyed how they wove into the story and the parts they played. I liked how many of them had secrets, skills, and agendas that played into the story so they weren’t just there to prop up behind Darcy and Elizabeth.
The plot itself with its mystery of who the double agent was and how that person would be stopped was exciting furious page-turning stuff. I had my suspicions about things and I got most of it right, but even then, I barely figured out the last twist before it came. Love it when an author can surprise me like that.
The story is a pretty equal balance of romance and suspense which worked well, I thought. There are hints of spice in the romance which was slow to build since they were more hostile than loving for much of the story, but I liked how they felt equal and made good partners even if not sure of each other. The suspense propelled the romance and vice versa.
And as a side note, I don’t normally point out covers, but isn’t this one gorgeous and perfect for the story?
So all in all, my enthusiasm was never dampened and I was riveted for much of the book. This spicy, intriguing romantic suspense is a definite recommend to romantic suspense lovers especially who want to get nostalgic over a Cold War spy romance. For Austenesque lovers, this is most definitely for those who enjoy a modern(ish) retelling.
My thanks to Meryton Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #50 RS
Literary Pickers #49 sailboat
New to Me #24 author