Review: Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Reviewed by Cara Lynn

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen is a wild ride through the past.  I was given an uncorrected advance copy by LRP to review, but I only saw one mistake in the book.  Sometimes the mistakes can be so glaring that they take away from the story line.  But this didn’t have that problem.

Normally, I’m not a fan of historical romance — they are entirely too vapid and silly for my taste — and because I don’t read them often, I’m not up with the historical context and haven’t gained enough knowledge to make them interesting or fun for me.

Not so, this book!

The Story

Lord Adrian Smythe and Lady Sophia Smythe have secret lives — both are spies and both have been let out to pasture since the Napoleonic war with France has ended.  It so happens that they are married to each other, but neither knows the other is a spy.  To a degree, it reminds me of Mr & Mrs Smith, but significantly different.

The story jumps right in with both of them ready to apprehend the same man — Sophia has hidden in the closet of his lover; unknown to her, her husband will scoop in and take the credit.

As the Wolf and the Saint, they have had success in their careers.

Sophia has hid her considerable talents under drab clothes and big glasses, unless she is on assignment.  Adrian appears to her to be boring and tedious, though there is sexual tension between them.  For a period of time, Sophia has denied Adrian her bed, because she has suffered three miscarriages, and while she would dearly love children, she is frightened, as well she should be in that day and age — or even this day and age.

Then they are each called out in the middle of the night to meet with their superior, to decide who will gain the last remaining spot as a secret agent.

And they bump into each other, learning the truth about their identities.  They have to work together to solve a heinous murder, but whoever solves it first, gets the spot.

Along the way, they learn to trust each others strengths — Sophia relies on feelings and intuition, whereas Adrian is more analytical.  He is a better shot; she is good with a knife.  He learns she does not really need his protection; she learns to value his protection, rather than chafe against it.

The sex

And the sex is better than good.  It is very well written.  How about sex in a carriage… how about sex in front of a window… how about sex that is interrupted by an assignation…how about sex… how about sex with love…

My take

It is well written; held my interest; seemed to fit in with the mores of the day, yet was modern enough for current sensibilities.

Have you read it?  or any other of her books?

I will be on the look out for more.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Lord and Lady Spy

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Ten Reasons Why Secret Identities are Sexy

by Shana Galen, guest blogger and author of Lord and Lady Spy

In my new historical romance, Lord and Lady Spy, both the hero and heroine have secret identities. He’s secret agent Wolf, and she’s secret agent Saint. The fun thing is that while Sophia and Adrian have been married five years, neither knows of the other’s secret. And how the sparks fly when the truth is revealed!

I love stories with secret identities. This isn’t my first secret-identity book and probably won’t be my last. Why are secret identities so sexy?

  1. When you have a secret identity your secret self can do things your public self never would. As Lady Smythe, Sophia would never tell her husband what she wanted from him in bed. But as Agent Saint, she’s more than happy to give a few orders.
  2. Secret identities mean lots of midnight rendezvous and clandestine meetings. Sometimes these dark, furtive meetings can lead to more than simply spy business.
  3. Secret identities mean dressing the part. A dowdy lady of Society can dress as a sexy siren when she’s playing her role as spy.
  4. Secret identities mean secret scars. How much fun to compare battle wounds, especially when they’re in interesting places!
  5. Secret identities mean you have an excuse for slipping away from a boring ball or house party. On business—or pleasure!
  6. When you have a secret identity you have the chance to meet your spouse all over again for the first time. Who wouldn’t want to experience that initial spark of attraction again?
  7. A secret identity as a spy means Sophia and Adrian have to come up with lots of explanations for prolonged absences when they’re working on a mission. But they also get to travel the world.
  8. Secret identities mean secret talents. Sophia has skills with a dagger, and Adrian’s a crack shot with a pistol.
  9. Secret identities mean you don’t get much share of the applause for your accomplishments. On the other hand, your accomplishments often bring you into contact with the most powerful men and women of the day. Why, yes, prime minister, I would like to come to dinner!
  10. And, finally, secret identities are sexy because it’s a secret we the reader know and the characters don’t know. At first. I love to guess how the hero or heroine will realize the secret and how he or she will react. I think this scene in Lord and Lady Spy is pretty sexy and exciting.

Do you like secret identity stories? What makes them sexy?

Visit my website (www.shanagalen.com) for excerpts, trailers, and news about Lord and Lady Spy and all my books.

LORD AND LADY SPY BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011

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…

Buy: Lord and Lady Spy, Lord and Lady Spy (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shana Galen is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold worldwide, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She’s a wife, a mother, and an expert multi-tasker. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at www.shanagalen.com or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of Lord and Lady Spy. Open to: US and Canadian readers. Enter by: Answering Shana’s question about secret identities. Last Day to Enter: September 30, 2011.

Review: Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington Book One) by Maureen Driscoll

Story: Nurse Jane Wetherby and Lord Edward Kellington have a very brief and hot affair behind enemy lines at the Battle of Waterloo. Jane convinces Edward (Ned) of her widowhood when in fact she’s an unmarried virgin – talk about your virginity surprise! Of course the dunderhead ruins it all by proposing they continue the illicit affair instead of proposing marriage. Jane disappears and because he doesn’t know her real name he can’t find her when he comes to his senses.

They meet again seven years later when Ned shows up in Marston Vale to do his duty and pay to the family, which as we all know means he’s got to get hitched whether he likes it or not and trust me he does not. The bride-to-be in question was loosely arranged between the parents and is an unkind scheming woman Ned has no interest in – though he’s quite interested in the kind surgeon he meets riding in – very interested. Now he’s just got to convince her to marry him!

Review: This is a stunning and beautiful romance. I couldn’t put it down, which I feel is a good indicator of how fabulous it is! :) There’s quite a lot going on in this novel: a second son of a duke turned soldier/spy, mistaken identity, virginity surprise, a bastard secret baby from the union, another woman/arranged marriage, a wicked grandfather, a murder, several attempted kidnappings, one real one, the heroine’s a surgeon, and at least one more thing to tie it all together. I was swept up in the adventure and rooted for the characters from the first paragraph and I think you will be too. Be sure to pick this book up if you like Regency romances and anything else I’ve mentioned to this point. I can’t wait to see what else Maureen Driscoll turns out next! I’m particularly looking forward to Lynwood’s romance.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington Book One)

Review: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries

Series Background: The grandmother wants to see her grandkids wed before the year is out. If one fails to do so their inheritances go up in smoke.

Series Plot Arc: The Sharpe children have been branded by scandal. It is widely believed that their mother shot their father and then herself in a tragic episode the whole ton delights in gossiping about… but this is not the case. Each book reveals more about the murder mystery plot.

Summary: Minerva plans to outwit her grandmother by placing an ad in a magazine for a husband and picking the worst of the lot in hopes of getting her grandmother to rescind the ultimatum. When family friend and rogue, Giles Masters applies for her hand, she believes he’s the one to fix her dilemma. Just because he’s a friend of the family, doesn’t mean Gran or her brothers want her to be married to him.

Review: When I was reading A Hellion in Her Bed I knew I wanted to read the romance of the independent lady novelist Minerva Sharpe. I loved the idea of a novelist writing a villain spy into her books based on the hero, who is in fact a spy, but not at all evil. What a delicious romp! And it really was. :D

I liked the relationship between Giles and the brothers, especially once they learn of his interest in their Minerva. How hypocritical they were!

One thing I didn’t really get was all Giles’ “angst” over the mishap between his brother and his brother’s second wife. It seemed so unnecessary and convoluted to his whole “love is for fools and suckers” mentality.

Favorite Scene: The first time they had sex was good and pretty funny too because Minerva asks “is that all?” when talking about breaking her hymen. I also liked when they swam together at the pond, and the hanky panky at the first hotel.

Hellions of Halstead Hall:

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

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Review: The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

by Marcia, guest reviewer

Eve Carpenter is not having a good day.  In fact her whole life is depressing.  After being cheated by her mother and her accountant, she now finds herself penniless and working as an office temp.  Today she is participating in a lame reality type TV program with other ‘has been’ celebrities by being strapped into a paraglider.  After a few exhilarating moments in flight, she falls through ‘a whole in the world’ into a parallel universe; a world where England is an undeveloped, poverty stricken, civil-war torn country, an failed state.  An England where most people have never heard of computers, much less know what they look like.

As Eve paraglides into this very confusing world she runs smack dab into London Bridge and is rescued by Major Will Harker and his ever-loyal second in command, Charlie.  Eve is immediately taken for a spy and is eventually taken to St. James Palace, which is no longer a palace, but a prison that is not really a prison.  Her efforts to explain where she comes from and how she came to be in this alternate England does nothing to eliminate suspicions of her as a spy; but when she mentions, telephones, TVs, and computers, the Military brass immediately recognize that she could be useful to them.  They have heard that the rebel Coalitionists (those that wish to be annexed by the French Empire) have a computer and the Military needs to capture it.  Eve must accompany Major Harker and his company into the war torn countryside to help find this devise, bring it back to London and show someone how to use it.

Eve and Major Harker argue the entire way about everything.  They argue about the need for military discipline vs. the necessity of thinking for one-self, the words to music, and the reasons why England is in such a mess while the rest of the world has prospered and modernized.  During these discussions, Eve realizes that the reason the England in her world is successful is because it has never occurred to its people that they could fail.  This realization, along with the unflinching loyalty and bravery she sees demonstrated by Company C, has an ameliorating effect on Eve, enabling her to find her way in both worlds.

The Untied Kingdom is not your average romance novel.  Romantic scenes do not appear until the second half of the book and there are many more scenes of graphic brutality and violence.  It is not a particularly comfortable read, but it is a well-crafted, tightly and cleverly constructed story.  Although it is not written in first person, Johnson only allows the reader to really see events through Eve’s perspective.  In the beginning of the book, Eve is angry, bitter and not a little whiney, as a result, her view of the world is confusing and chaotic.  As her perspective changes, so does her view of herself and the world that she inhabits makes much more sense.   In the end, Johnson does not take an easy way out of her characters’ dilemma, but still brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Untied Kingdom

Review: The Mistaken Wife by Rose Melikan

by Zarabeth, guest reviewer

This is a classic late 18th century spy romance.

Neither of our leads know what the other one is up to and are constantly attempting to deceive each other when, of course, it is only together that they will triumph or, heck, get out alive.

There is zero sexiness in this one but the book is certainly filled with anxieties far more pressing.

Melikan does a great job of capturing the mood during the war in Britain and France and its apparent she’s done her homework on the matter as well as her French.

I did not find the romance itself at all compelling, but the mission and the dangers that Mary, our heroine, overcomes are interesting enough.

Fine read, but a little something missing.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Mistaken Wife

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Review: Blue Knight by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Reviewer Side Note: Romantic suspense is not something I usually read because it’s hard for me to read things geniunely scary. Vampires? No problem. I don’t expect to ever run into one in a dark ally. Crazy wackos? Greedy and powerful bad guys? They’re a little more likely.

The Story: A small group of U.N. delegates are held hostage by the Insurrectos in Vistaria (tiny island nation off the coast of Mexico) for weeks without hope of rescue. Olivia is smart, pretty, but old enough to want more than a one night stand, which makes her invisible to Daniel. The man seems to bed down with everyone but her and she decides to let him have it when Daniel tumbles into her hotel room from the window stark naked from an interrupted liaison with the woman next door. Her disinterest piques his interest and soon the two are playing a dangerous game that could get them killed… because all the Insurrectos need for a game changed is one confirmed American or to find the spy amongst the hostages.

The Silly Theory: I want point out right now that the theory I said I had on Twitter was so far off base as to be in another galaxy. Had I read the first two books I wouldn’t have had this theory I am sure, because I thought it was possible that Nick was Daniel when Daniel wasn’t acting as spy. Wrong… oh so wrong… so funny too.

Review: Blue Knight is book three in the Guns ‘n’ Lovers series. For me, because I hadn’t read the first two books in the series. It took me a while catch up with all the side characters and subplots and because it kept switching back and forth between the recently overturned government and the hostages. Eventually I managed to pick everything up, but I didn’t really have a connection to those side characters and hurried through them to get to the heart of the story: Olivia and Daniel’s romance… which is hot and spicy and a little terrifying!

It would have lacked the heart pounding intensity had the parts I was uncomfortable reading not been in the novel (interrogation scenes and real scare factor from the bad guys.) I come out of the novel with more gratitude for delegates who go to these unstable places than ever before… I’m way glad you have the guts, because I definitely don’t. Yikes!

Recommended: For those who love romantic suspense, political thrillers, multiple POVs, and erotica.

Series Order:

  1. Red Leopard (Nick & Calli)
  2. Black Heart (Duardo & Minnie)
  3. Blue Knight (Daniel & Olivia)
  4. White Dawn (Garrett & Carmen) (To be completed)
  5. Silver Noon
  6. Golden Day

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Blue Knight

Review: Devil’s Desire by Laurie McBain

by Mandy Dougherty, guest reviewer
 
Elysia Demarice was alone in the world.  After the loss of her parents in a horrific accident our spit-fire heroine was broken down by her evil Aunt and all of her worldly assets sold to pay off her family’s debts.  She was left to work long days in her Aunts household and suffer incomprehensible treatment at the hands of the older woman.  The fates had dealt Elysia an awful hand in which she was determined to fold.  Chased from her Aunt’s land by a group of rogue bandits Elysia took the opportunity as a sign from the Heavens and long after the pursuit of the evil-doers subsided, she ran….
 
Lord Alex Trevegne was a man whose reputation was legend that now wove through the English countryside. Lord Trevegne was a man who was said to be bred by the Devil himself, with his raging temper and the malice that poured from him. He is a man to be reckoned with, yet to meet his match in wit and pride.
 
Thrown from a fate of misfortune into the arms of the ill tempered Lord was not the rewriting of fates that Elysia would have envisioned for herself.  Their paths crossing was merely a coincidence in which mother nature and her disastrous downpour played a strong part.  Exchanging mere introductions quickly turns into a whirlwind marriage that leaves Elysia reeling and enraged.  Though she had no money or possessions to her name Elysia is not a woman who will be silenced by her newly acquired, domineering husband.  Is she bound to live eternity with the Devil or will the man inside pull her to love the true Lord Alex Trevegne?
 
A strong, arrogant hero is the allure to this amazing tale, as Alex becomes a towering pair of arms any woman would want to be wrapped in to fight the frigid nights. The man is much deeper than his Devil persona and he slowly lets you into his world as Elysia enters his heart. Wrapped in the tragedy of the times, a fight for possession and power erupts, and Lord Trevegne fights not only for his kingdom, but the feisty woman who entered his world that rainy night.
 
Laurie McBain does a phenomenal job weaving this whirlwind tale of smugglers, rogues, and spies into the underlying romanticism between Elysia and Lord Trevegne.  As you turn page after page you are eager to follow the many characters that are introduced to the storyline.  While I am normally unimpressed with a story saturated with secondary characters, McBain utilized all of these characters flawlessly.  Just when the reader thinks that a character will not play a vital role, they are then at middle of the action.
 
I truly enjoyed following the turmoil brewing inside of Elysia.  The reader feels the pain and conflict that boils under the surface of this spirited, lovable heroine.  Seeing Lord Trevegne’s iced facade slowly melt to this remarkable woman warms your heart as the intimate scenes between them would warm any bed.  Laurie McBain has found a fan in this reviewer.  I cannot wait to follow the journey in her next tale, which gains it’s leads from this beautifully turbulent romance.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Devil’s Desire

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