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(The Spies of Mayfair, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued. After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy. When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.

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This is the third book in The Spies of Mayfair series. Once again, Maggi Andersen pens an entertaining romance set against a background of intrigue.

Flynn

Flynn was born and raised at Greystones Manor, the family home in County Wicklow, Ireland. After his mother ran off with her lover, he was left in the care of his father, a drunkard with a violent temper. He understood why she had left his father but not why his mother had left him behind. He was condemned to a miserable childhood without parental love, only relieved when he was sent away to be educated in Dublin. As soon as he was old enough, Flynn turned his back on his father and Ireland and left for England. He soon gained a reputation as a rake but is also employed as a highly valued spy for the King George IV.

Flynn is surprised when the beautiful, widowed Lady Brookwood refuses his advances. Women usually fall at his feet, so he is intrigued by her. When he discovers that the lady is in danger, it stirs protective instincts he has never felt for any woman before and emotions he has always kept under control.

Althea

Althea was married at seventeen, a marriage arranged by her father. She wanted to make the marriage work, only to be met with nothing but callous treatment from her husband. She takes no pleasure in his lovemaking and, when he accuses her of being cold and unresponsive in bed, she comes to believe that the fault lies with her. After her husband is killed in a duel, she enjoys her freedom and has no wish to remarry or take a lover. She has no intention of being subject to another man’s will ever again.

So Althea is determined to resist Lord Montsimon, however handsome and charming he may be. However, when he is adamant that she is in danger and insists on protecting her, she begins to see that he is much more than his rakish exterior suggests

Every time Flynn spoke, I could hear that soft Irish burr in my head. Add to that his easy charm, his sense of humour and his willingness to take in a stray, “not at all handsome” dog called Spot and how could I not adore him?  When he and Althea are forced to share a bedroom (all very innocent), he has rather a unique way of dampening his ardour…

…he began to recite the lines of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner under his breath.

I liked Althea as well. I understood her desire to be independent and admired her determination to solve her own problems. However, once she is aware that the danger is real, Althea is sensible enough to appreciate having Flynn around.

A vision of Montsimon replaced her anguished thoughts, his compelling grey eyes, his elegant features, and the confident set of his shoulders. She was suddenly terribly pleased to have him as her friend.

I liked how the romantic relationship between Flynn and Althea grew slowly, from their initial, verbal skirmishes…

“Are you deaf? Put me down!” She struggled to free herself.
“Can’t I’m afraid. At your present snail’s pace, my lady, we would be lucky to reach the carriage by breakfast.

….to the genuine friendship that developed between them and falling in love seemed a natural progression as they come to like and trust each other.

There are some amusing moments when Althea and Flynn have to pose as husband and wife and Flynn’s rakish tendencies come to fore.

“You can’t go about the house like that! Don’t you have a nightshirt?”
He tucked his arms beneath his head. “Don’t use ’em.”
You might have made an exception,” she said crossly while inspecting his wide chest.
“Now it’s your turn,” he invited with a lazy, seductive grin.
She put her hands on her hips. “You are not going to watch me.”
“I rather thought I would. There’s a dearth of entertainment in the country. Even the newspapers are old.”

I cheered for Althea when she decides to consummate their relationship and finally dispels all her fears of intimacy.

The letter from Flynn’s mother was so poignant but it helped him lay the ghosts of his past to rest and it was such a lovely touch that his mother should provide the solution to the remaining obstacle in his path to marrying Althea.

I thought the mystery aspect was rather weak but it was secondary to the charming romance anyway. I did enjoy seeing previous heroes Guy, Baron Fortescue ( A Baron in Her Bed) and John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn ( Taming a Gentleman Spy), Flynn’s former associates and friends, who provide extra muscle when it comes to tackling the villains.

I like how real historical figures and events are woven into the story giving an insight into the personal and political machinations surrounding King George IV’s reign.

My verdict: A delightfully entertaining story.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2015

The Spies of Mayfair series (click on the book cover for more details):

A Baron in Her Bed (The Spies of Mayfair) by Maggi Andersen Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen What a Rake Wants by Maggi Andersen

 

I would like to thank the author, Maggi Andersen, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(The Spies of Mayfair, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. Has the treasonous Frenchman, Count Forney, returned to England to wreak havoc? Or has someone new landed on English shores to stir up rebellion in the Midlands? After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry. And most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. And then, weak fool that he is, he kissed her…

Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since her first Season years ago — when she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit. Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family. But she doesn’t feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss…

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I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in Maggi Andersen’s The Spies of Mayfair series with its engaging story, appealing characters and delightful romance. There is also mystery, drama and intrigue.

John Haldane, Earl of Straithairn:

Somehow, the surge of adrenaline and sense of living on the edge banished the anguish he carried. And nothing else had thus far come close.

John is a man of action rather than words and, after returning from the Napoleonic Wars, he can’t contemplate hours of debating in the House of Lords. So he inhabits the dark and dangerous world of spying in an attempt to uncover Napoleonic sympathisers threatening to destabilise the British Government. The intelligence work has also given him a purpose in life that he found missing after his return from the war. It also helps keep at bay the terrible wartime memories that continue to haunt his dreams.

John and Sibella have shared a close friendship but his feelings have deepened beyond friendship. But he knows that, in his line of work, death could be lurking just around the corner and he is determined to remain single. His resolve is further strengthened when a close colleague is murdered leaving behind a wife and child. He could never subject a wife to such pain and so he keeps his feelings in check.

Lady Sibella Winborne

No wonder her mother was giving any likely candidate for her hand a push. Unfortunately, Mama didn’t push; she shoved.

Whilst her mother has been occupied with bringing out the last of Sibella’s three sisters and enjoying her grandchildren, Sibella has managed to avoid several suitors over the years since her own come out. However, at the age of twenty six, she is in danger of being left on the shelf and her mother is now pressurising her to marry.

John Haldane, a family friend, is the only man she has ever desired but he has a strong aversion to marriage. Believing John will never be hers and longing for a home of her own and a family, she may be willing to settle for her brother’s choice of suitor, the polite and well-mannered Lord Coombe.

Sibella and John’s story has all the elements I look for in  a romance:

A protective, caring hero:

He fought the strong pull of attraction; he could not bend. His life was too dangerous; he would never risk Sibella. She was far too precious.

A strong-willed, intelligent heroine:

But now, after that kiss! She’d find a way to make him face the truth. They were after all, perfectly suited.

Delicious sexual tension:

With a swift movement, he cradled her face in his hands; his lips, firm but gentle, covered hers, stifling her gasp of surprise. Coherent thought slipped away as his arm encircled her waist and pulled her hard against him. His hold tightened and the kiss deepened, teasing her lips and stealing her breath.

A few stumbling blocks along the way:

“I don’t enjoy having to say this to you John, but it befalls me as head of the family. Sib has a love of home and hearth. She looks for a husband who will sit by the fire with her at night. That isn’t you, is it?”
“She deserves the best, and no, it isn’t me, Chaloner.”

Drama:

And somewhere, a ruthless murderer lurked, well-armed and with some evil design to bring chaos to England

Of course, this is a romance, so assuredly there will be a Happy Ever After…

Moments later, Straithairn slipped the gold band on her finger. He exhaledon a long sigh of contentment.
She was his.

Once again, Ms Andersen has woven true historical events into the story, creating a real sense of the era with its political and social unrest.

A charming romance and a touch of intrigue combine to make Taming a Gentleman Spy a wonderfully entertaining story.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 2015

The Spies of Mayfair series (click on the book cover for more details):

A Baron in Her Bed (The Spies of Mayfair) by Maggi Andersen Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen What a Rake Wants by Maggi Andersen

 

I would like to thank the author, Maggi Andersen, for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Read Full Post »

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