I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this one. When I requested an advance copy I thought the plot was interesting and thought it would probably would be an enjoyable read. I have to say that A Lady’s Secret Weapon went completely above and beyond my expectations. We’ve got spies, mystery, romance all wrapped up into one great historical romance.
Ethan deBeau is a boudoir spy; he discovers all kinds of information in ladies’ beds, all in the name of serving his country. At long last it seems that his unseemly work has finally paid off and he will be made the chief of the spy network, Nexus. Unfortunately, he receives the bad news that it will be his best friend that will get the position. Ethan feels rather shattered what he gets the news from his mentor. He’s very much aware that what he has done for Nexus is unsavory and he was ready to leave that life behind. But, since Ethan does not want to cause trouble for his friend he carries on with his current mission; investigating a boys’ home that has been tipped off as being connected to a person of interest to Nexus. Further complicating Ethan’s life is Sydney Hunt, who appears to also be involved in her own investigation of the same home.
Sydney Hunt is more than she appears. On the surface she is a successful business woman that provides servants to the upper classes; however, there is more to her operation than meets the eye. Like Ethan, Sydney is investigating the boys’ home, yet she is more concerned about finding out what’s really going on behind closed doors and fixing whatever is going on there.
Like I said, I was really pleased with A Lady’s Secret Weapon and I flew through the book in one evening. Both Ethan and Sydney were fantastic characters. They were both strong in their own right, yet so vulnerable because of their respective pasts. Ethan had no idea how to handle his growing feelings towards Sydney since he’d never allowed himself to enter into a relationship before, and he wasn’t sure that he really deserved a chance with Sydney because of his past. You gotta love an indecisive hero. As for Sydney, it wasn’t so much her past, as her mother’s that made her guard her heart. Syndey’s mother was seduced by the master of the house when she was a housekeeper, which eventually led Sydney to her vocation where she protects the serving class from the aristocracy. I loved the fact that both characters slowly changed through the course of the novel until they were able to trust one another – it was super romantic.
What I also liked were the exceptional secondary characters, the twins Mac and Mick, and Sydney’s assistant, Amelia. I am on pins and needles waiting for Mac and Amelia’s story, since there was a pretty big loose end left there, which I hope will be tied up sooner rather than later.
One thing that did bother me in the book was Ethan’s admiration for his mentor, Somerton. Somerton shepherded Ethan, his sister and his friend into the spy life, and essentially sold Ethan into a form of prostitution. I didn’t get how Ethan could forgive his mentor this. At this point, I should disclaim that I haven’t read the two previous books in the series, one of which features Somerton as the main character. Presumably, reading the previous two books in the series would have shed some light on Somerton, but not having that back story, I was a little put off by his character.
I would also recommend that readers start at the beginning of the series with A Lady’s Revenge since a lot of the mystery plot is built on mystery and revelations revealed in the first two books in the series. I wasn’t lost when reading A Lady’s Secret Weapon without reading the two prior books, but I think it would have enhanced the reading, had I done so.
And lastly, if you’re a fan of the spy trope in historical romance, I would recommend Anna Randol’s Sinners Trilogy, which has a similar premise and is also very good.
*e-ARC provided by NetGalley
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