Sophia Galloway, Lady Smythe has a secret identity. Whilst her husband thinks that she is busy doing whatever it is that ladies do (you know, charities etc) in reality she is Agent Saint, one of the top agents for the super secret spy group known as Barbican.
Adrian Galloway, Lord Smythe has a secret identity. Whilst his wife thinks that he is busy doing whatever it is that gentlemen do (you know, parliament and clubs etc) in reality he is Agent Wolfe, also one of the top agents for the super secret spy group known as Barbican.
If you have seen the movie Mr and Mrs Smith (infamous for being the movie where Brad and Angelina got together) then you will recognise the not necessarily subtle homage that the author has paid in the set up of this book. It is fair to say though that the author hasn't just taken the whole movie and plonked it into a historical setting, but it most certainly was a jumping off point.
With the end of the Napoleonic war, Barbican needs to cut back on the number of spies that it has in action. When both Wolf and Saint are among those that are no longer required they are both mortified. What on earth are they going to be do all day? They certainly don't want to have to spend time with their spouse-in-name-only.
Luckily they are both approached separately to undertake a private investigation. The prize at the end of the investigation? One spot, and one spot only back in the Barbican group. In the process their identities are revealed to each other. Both are shocked to say the least, but more than anything they both want that spot. They can work together despite their differing tactics and strengths but ultimately they are competitors. What neither expected is that their attraction to each other would be reignited.
I have read a few of Galen's books now, and the results have been hit and miss. In the first couple of books I really liked the heroes, but in the first book in particular, I really didn't like the heroine. In this book, I was glad to see that there was a bit more consistency in the characterisation.
Having said that, there were still issues. Adrian works his way through his cases by using meticulous research, careful planning and tying all the loose ends. Sophia is good with knives, but a terrible shot with a pistol, and is fantastic at what she does mainly because of her unerringly accurate intuition. Every time something is about to happen her nose itches, which is fine as a gimmick, but is it enough to say that her nose itches every time?
One of the other inconsistencies in terms of characterisations for Sophia in particular relates to her history when it comes to pregnancies. She has pushed Adrian away for years because she is so upset about the fact that she has suffered from multiple miscarriages. So far, that might seem like a perfectly logical step, but we are supposed to believe that this incredibly strong woman who doesn't flinch at violence or death, can't be in the same room as a pregnant woman without breaking down. I didn't buy it.
Adrian struggles between respecting the agent Sophia but also wanting to protect his wife Sophia, which I think would be a pretty realistic reaction, at least until he got used to the idea. I loved the scenes where the two of them compared their memories with what actually had been going on as exemplified in this exchange:
“Do you recall the time we were at the opera about two months after we were married? I went to the ladies’ retiring room and was gone about an hour. When I returned, I had blood on my gown. I told you it was jam.”
“Did I believe that?”
“You didn’t question it.”
“And what really happened?”
“An agent from Milan with orders to assassinate me showed up and shot me in the leg. I was in excruciating pain for the rest of La vera costanza.”
“Oh, I remember why I didn’t question the jam. I’d just returned from Strasbourg where I’d had some sort of chemical thrown in my face. It burned my eyes, and I couldn’t see a thing for a fortnight.”
My intro to the teaser I wanted to share has turned basically into a review! Whoops!
Every now and again you read a phrase that makes you sit up and think. In this case it was thinking along the lines that I have read a lot of romance novels over the years but I don't think I have ever seen this particular phrase used before.
Warning....this is from a very intimate moment and reflects their new understanding of each other's identities and their changing opinions:
"Come for me," he murmured. "I want to feel you. See you." He held his breath for a moment. They'd made love a dozen times and never been so intimate. Faces always turned away. Cries stifled. Climaxing politely.
No, I wasn't talking about the come for me line...the ability to climax on demands seems to be an inherent requirement for a romance heroine. Rather, that final phrase - climaxing politely - really caught my attention and seems to very succinctly refer to the sexual act within a marriage of convenience that is the basis of so many historical romances!
According to the author's website, there is going to be another book that is going to be connected to this one and it will be called True Spies. I am pretty sure we can tell from that title and the fact that we are talking about spy novels which movie has provided the inspiration for that book!
No man can outsmart him...
Lord Adrian Smythe may appear a perfectly boring gentleman, but he leads a thrilling life as one of England's most preeminent spies, an identity so clandestine even his wife is unaware of it. But he isn't the only one with secrets...
She's been outsmarting him for years...
Now that the Napoleonic wars have come to an end, daring secret agent Lady Sophia Smythe can hardly bear the thought of returning home to her tedious husband. Until she discovers in the dark of night that he's not who she thinks he is after all...