Audiobook Review: While You Were Spying by Shana Galen

Posted June 7, 2019 by Sophia Rose in Audio Delight, Reviews / 20 Comments

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Audiobook Review: While You Were Spying by Shana Galen
While You Were Spying
Narrated by Heather Wilds

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Regency Spies #.5
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on November 10, 2005
Format: Audiobook
Source: Gift
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The Delight

It’s been some time, but I remember liking the light historical romps and romantic escapades this author wrote and so I was delighted to discover to find this one tucked among all the audio files on my computer.  A new to me narrator, the prequel to a series, and spies seemed the perfect choice when I was deciding on a few books to celebrate June is Audiobook Month #JIAM.


While You Were Spying is the prequel story for the author’s Regency Spies series.  I’m not sure if its one of those prequels that was written after some of the series books was released and works better read out of order or not, but I had no trouble starting with this one.  And, lo and behold, I seem to have the next two books as well when I checked my shelf.

So, Ethan Caxton, the Marquis of Winterbourne and his brother are spying on a local farmer presumed to be an arms smuggler to the French.  He is interrupted and nearly compromised in his work when a young woman on her own mission blunders in distracting him in more ways than one.  But, he has an arms ring to smash up and now a headstrong young woman to keep out of danger.

Francesca Dashing was once humiliated at a society function by Lord Winterbourne and he doesn’t even remember her.  She bumps into him while attempting to save an abused colt from his abusive master.  Something is a little off about the situation, but she’s too infuriated by Winterbourne’s high-handedness in dealing with the odious farmer.  She wants to continue despising him, but the man gets under her skin.

This one started out as a fun romp with an oblivious do-gooder set on her course and a spy thwarted by her innocent activities.  But, its not all light and feathers when the scars of from their pasts surface and explain a bit why they are the way they are, particularly Winterbourne who is harsh and unrelenting and really doesn’t trust women or relationships after watching what happened in his own family and with other women.  I don’t mind the blend of the light frolicking with the heavier subject matter and was really rooting for this pair.  Oh how I wanted something nasty to happen to Francesca’s mother who was nigh on abusive to her daughter for her own ambitions.  The narrator gave her just the right amount of supercilious fake graces.

But, I struggled a bit with this one because Francesca pulled a lot of stubborn-stupid along with way.  She knows she’s in danger, but what does she do?  Yep, dashes off alone.  Not once, but multiple times because she’s on a crusade and that’s all that’s important.  And, much of the time, I felt emotions and reactions got overblown in both of them.  Ethan was a caricature of a broody experienced spy.  The villain was so easy to spot and I don’t just mean to the listener that it was hard to buy that these people were good at what they did.

However, if I didn’t take it too seriously, it was an entertaining story and much in line with what I remember enjoying most about the author’s other books.  So, perhaps some of my niggles could be chalked up to mood.

As to Heather Wilds, I was right on board with her narration work within seconds of clicking on the story.  Female, male, class status, pacing and tone were right on the button.  Even when the characters were over-reacting, she didn’t over-act the roles.  I’m pretty sure I enjoyed this one as much as I did because I listened rather than read it.  I’ll definitely be seeking out more of her work.

All in all, this one hit the spot and reminded me that I need to pick up more historical romances than I have been lately and keep grabbing up this author’s books in particular.  I’d recommend this one for those who want an entertaining historical spy romance romp that isn’t to be taken too seriously to appreciate it.

Challenges Met

Mt. TBR #51
Audio #57

About Shana Galen

Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Bookreviews calls her books ” lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at

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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.

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2 years ago

It’s been a while since I haven’t read a book by this author but I did enjoy the ones I tried

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Melliane

Her stuff is nice when I want something light-hearted. I need to grab up her books more often.

Lover of Romance
2 years ago

Oh boy….I do like this author but have struggled with some of her books lately due to how the heroines are written…I don’t understand the stupid actions that happen at times. I do love this authors style of writing historical romance so I hope you pick up her other books. She handles spies so well.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yes! The heroine can really get on my nerves and I find myself saying, ‘why are you doing that? Do you have a death wish?’ LOL Lots of talking to my audio.
But, yes, these are fun and I do want to keep going with the series because his brother intrigues me.

Jen T
2 years ago

Oh, I look forward to seeing what you think of the next book after reading the novella.

I recently listened to a prequel novella that was written after the third full-length book. I really enjoyed, so I picked up book 1, and was frustrated at the number of continuity conflicts. It was a case of writing the novella to fit the future of the series, rather than fit into the past. I hope that doesn’t happen for you!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Jen T

Yes, this was one of those that felt like it was written later than the first book or two so it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in how the brother who is book one’s hero was originally portrayed.
Yikes on the author not going back and editing the incongruities out.

Crystal @ Lost in Storyland

It can be frustrating when the MC acts recklessly, though I do appreciate when these reckless situations help move plot or provide character growth. It’s also hard when people who should be competent at their jobs don’t feel believable for the role or when characters fall into stereotypes. I’m glad that, in spite of it all, that this was an entertaining read!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

I just wanted to shake her for being so foolish. LOL Yeah, the whole trained spies thing had my eyebrow up when an untrained observant person could have worked out who the traitor was.
But, the rest was fun and I’ll see what comes next with his brother.

Tracy Terry
2 years ago

Whilst I rate historical fiction as one of my favourite genres I can’t say I enjoy this particular sub-genre and liking feisty female characters as I do I’d also struggle with Francesca.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Terry

Yeah, Francesca would probably set your teeth to grinding. She had no sense of self-preservation and held a grudge about one past encounter well past it’s due date.

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

I appreciate it when the narrator doesn’t over-act drama. It can magnify the already annoying qualities of a character. I’ve had it happen and had to switch to reading so I didn’t end up completely hating the character. This does sound like a story I’d enjoy. Maybe I’d up the speed of reading/audio book when Francesca was up to her stupid and stubborn. 🙂

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yep, you’ve got a solid plan there, lady! 🙂

Carole rae
2 years ago

Sounds right up my ally! I adore spies and HR. 😀

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Carole rae

Same here! ‘spies’ with ‘regency’ is like catnip. 🙂

Anne Clarence
2 years ago

I tried to read historical fiction several times before, but the more historically accurate dialogues make it a little bit harder for me to “get into the book” and understand so I can never get into it haha. Glad you enjoyed it though! Great review.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Anne Clarence

It does take a bit to slip into the older-style language, for sure. Galen’s books are lighter and generally modern though not slangy, of course.

Thanks, Anne!

Mary Kirkland
2 years ago

I don’t read too many historicals these days but this sounds interesting. I hate it when a heroine does things that are just dumb.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

It was a humorous and fun one with some depth. But yeah, she really wasn’t that bright at times. 😉

Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books

I have had some luck with Shana Galen’s work in the past so I would try this one for that fact alone. I would probably have some of the same issues with the character’s behavior though.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Her books have always been fun and easy-reads for me. This one was, too, even if I did some muttering at the heroine a few times. I’m looking forward to the hero’s brother’s story now. I think that one was actually released first.