Undeceived by Karen Cox #Review

Posted February 19, 2016 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 10 Comments

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Undeceived by Karen Cox #Review

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Meryton Press
Released on January 29, 2016
Pages: 307
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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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.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #50 RS
Literary Pickers #49 sailboat
New to Me #24 author

About Karen M Cox

Karen M Cox writes novels accented with history and romance. Her award-winning debut novel, “1932,” is a variation on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” set in the southern US during the Great Depression. Her second novel, “Find Wonder in All Things,” won the 2012 IPPY Gold medal in Romance and was a Finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her latest release, “At the Edge of the Sea,” is a coming-of-age story set in 1959 and tells the tale of a minister’s son and his unlikely paramour – a small town girl with a bad reputation. It won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in both Romance and Chick Lit categories. Her fourth novel, “Undeceived: Pride and Prejudice in the Spy Game” will be released in early 2016.

Karen was born in Everett, Washington, and at age 11, after a somewhat nomadic childhood that included stints in New York, North Dakota, and Tennessee, moved to her family’s home state of Kentucky. She lives in a quiet little town with her husband, son, and daughter.

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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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5 years ago

Awesome review. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful take on this original Austen inspired variation.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  xtnaB

It was truly my pleasure, Christina. Loved it.

5 years ago

Cool 🙂 Though I prefer my variations to be set in the same era and same peeps 😉

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Blodeuedd

Very cool! It was a bit of something different with the setting. LOL, I’m a bit all over the map with my variations. I still need to read one set in space. Haha!

5 years ago

Sounds like the perfect kind of book for you, I saw the Great Pick up Line post first and thought it sounded like a book for you with how it’s based on a Jane Austen story and then saw your review of it and decided to comment here instead. The spy element and the romantic suspense sound well done and that’s good to know you can read it even without havign read the Jane Austen book it’s based on. And the cold war era sounds like it made for a great setting, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book… Read more »

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Lola

Ha! Yes, this was most definitely a perfect fit for me. Oh yeah, the Cold War setting was fascinating and it was interesting working through things as a reader and watching to see when the protagonists figured it out.
Thanks, Lola!

vvb reads
5 years ago

Sounds like an interesting P&P combo for me to try. I have not read much during this time period so that would be a new area to explore. Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  vvb reads

It was indeed interesting to get the story set during that time period. You’re welcome! 🙂

5 years ago

I love when the story have an historical background because I can learn new things…in this case I knew nothing about Bay of Pigs but this book pushed me to make some research and now I now XD

Sophia Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  LorenDushku

Yes, and for me it was learning about things in Hungary. That is definitely one of the best parts about reading.