Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on November 10, 2005
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.
Mt. TBR #51