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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In Bed With A Spy by Alyssa Alexander

In Bed With A Spy is historical romantic suspense at it's best. Author Alyssa Alexander has created a memorable heroine in the passionate Lilias Fairchild and a  truly romantic hero in Alastair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelstone. I was so captivated by these two characters and their story that I read this novel in two evenings. 



Prologue--Waterloo, 1815

Reflex sent Angel's bayonet plunging as a Frenchman reared up in front of him, face contorted by fear.When the man screamed, regret shot through Angel before he forced it away. It was kill or be killed. There was no time for regret.

He surged forward with the ranks of foot soldiers, compelled to look for the woman. The muddied ground sucked at his feet, threatening to pull him beneath thundering hooves and panicked soldiers. Broken corn stalks slashed at his face. The sulfur smell of black powder burned his nose, mixing with the scent of men's fear.

He fought past a charging enemy soldier, spun away from another and saw her again.

Soot streaked her grim face. She grinned at the enemy standing before her---and the smile was terrible. The man paled but, aimed his rifle at her. He was not fast enough to beat her sword.

When that soldier, too, fell under her sabre, she looked up. Over the dead soldier and through the swirling gray smoke, Angel met her eyes. They were chilling, pale blue and held only one thing.

Vengeance.


These paragraphs drew me into the story immediately. I imagined that I was watching the battle, seeing the carnage and breathing in the smoke from the gunfire. Such a powerful prologue which sets the stage for an intense novel filled with passion, intrigue and murder.

Two years later, Alastair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelstone sees the woman from the battlefield at a ballroom in London. Angel  is introduced to Lilias Fairchild, the widow of Major Jeremy Fairchild ,by his friend and fellow spy Lord Langford. Lilas accepts Angels invitation to take a walk on the terrace. During their conversation both of them admit that they are trying to move forward after the war and there is an instant attraction between the couple. Lilias is unnerved by her feelings and drops her reticule. Angel helps her pick up her belongings. After Lilias leaves, Angel finds a medallion on the terrace floor and is shocked. The disc is a calling card for the Death Addlers, a group of assassins. The same group of assassins that killed his lover Gemma. Why did Lilias have the medallion? Is she an assassin?

I loved the character of Angel in Ms. Alexander's first novel the Smuggler Wore Silk. I wondered if Angel would have a story and what type of woman would be his partner. Lilias a strong,  passionate heroine, perfect for Angel. For six years,  Lilias followed her husband Major Jeremy Fairchild through almost every battle during the war. After Jeremy was killed, she took his sword and took his place on the battlefield. Jeremy died. And Lilias wanted vengeance.

Angel kidnaps Lilias from a ball and confronts her about the medallion. Lilias tells Angel that her husband gave her the medallion as he was dying. Angel accuses Jeremy of being an assassin. Lilias is shocked and angry at Angels accusation. Lilias thinks back and remembers events that didn't make sense. Things she never questioned but accepted. What if your life, your marriage, your husband....wasn't what you thought it was?

The romance between Lilias and Angel evolves as the couple pursues the leader of the Addlers. This couple has chemistry! Their story is tender, sensuous and passionate. And it sizzles! The last few chapters of the book are intense and well-written. Lilias and Angel must learn to trust each other as the join forces to pursue the Addlers. There were several betrayals and lots of intrigue as the hunt for the leader of the assassin  group intensifies. Ms. Alexander crafted a believable evil villain. Even though the reader did not know the identity of the leader of the Addlers, the villains presence was felt throughout the entire novel and played a huge part in this novel of suspense, passion and intrigue. I was captivated by Lilias and Angel's story and stayed up very late to finish the novel. I truly enjoyed the resolution to the story.

I am looking forward to the next Spy In The Ton novel!

Reviewed by Sue Gorman


Interview with Alyssa Alexander

After  reading In Bed With A Spy, Lady Celeste sent Alyssa Alexander a few questions!

Thank you so much for the review! And for allowing me to share a bit more about the book! 

What was your inspiration for In Bed With A Spy?
Part of the inspiration for IN BED WITH A SPY was Angel, as he appeared in my debut release, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK. He almost walked off with a few scenes in that book, so I knew he had to have his own story. He surprised me a bit along the way, but Angel started the ball rolling.
I also knew I needed a strong-willed heroine to match him. I researched women who followed their husbands on the march with Wellington, and I was utterly in awe of their strength, perseverance and ability to handle whatever hardships life threw at them. And so Lilias was born.

What drew you towards the historical suspense genre? 
I’ve always loved suspense. I’ve read straight suspense, romantic suspense, police procedures, psychological thrillers, and mysteries going back to Agatha Christie. But I also love romance, particularly historical. There’s something so fabulous about being swept away to another time and place where your imagination can really soar. It just seemed natural to combine the two. I like the historical romance heavy on the suspense, simply because it appeals to all the things I like best! 

The prologue for this book was awesome...it drew me in immediately. I could imagine the battle, see the characters and smell the smoke....well done..:) Was it tough to write?
Thank you so much! And, believe it or not, no. It was probably the easiest scene to write in that book! I often write out of order, and many of the best and easiest scenes fall out of my head with no relation to where I am in the manuscript. The scene just unfolds with such clarity I can’t wait to write it down. The prologue was written with a mental image of Lilias on horseback that I couldn’t shake. It was almost like a movie reel rolling in my head--the smoke hanging in the air, the cries of the men, Lilias standing in stirrups, her sword held high. And, despite all the self-editing and copy edits, the scene remained almost the same at publication. A few details were added, phrasing changed for clarity, but the basics of the scene itself never changed. Lilias is a warrior to me, and that image carried me through the book. 

Did you have a favorite character or scene?
The prologue. But I also love the scene (spoiler alert!) when Lilias hides the pistol in the potted palm. That was another easy scene to write, and I laughed my way through it. My other favorite is a love scene--not the music scene later on (trying not to give away too many spoilers!), but the scene when Angel discovers Lilias’s scars. There is something very poignant about that moment for me.
As for characters, aside from Angel and Lilias, my favorite would be Maggie, Angel’s niece. Who doesn't love a rascally little girl? 

Have you always enjoyed writing? What inspired you to write a novel?
I would say I have never NOT had a story in my head. Going back to elementary school, as early as first and second grade, I remember making up stories in my head. Riding on the bus, sitting in the car, playing dress-up, even lying in bed before I fell asleep. There were always people running through the hills and valleys of my imagination. Then one day I gave them a voice by putting pen to paper, and that was the end. I don’t think it was ever a question of “if” I would write a novel, but “when”. Of course, getting published was an entirely different thing! 

How do you have time to write with work, a child and a busy home life? Do you set a word count or a page count? How do you balance it all?
Oh, don’t be fooled! My life isn’t always balanced, and I drop as many balls as I successfully juggle. But the balls I drop are the ones that don’t matter--never family or work. I’ve never failed to meet a deadline or an obligation, though I have emailed my post to bloggers twice, lol! Clearly, I was making sure I didn’t drop a ball. And, to be frank, after I was published it was difficult keeping track of life without feeling overwhelmed. I purchased a planner that has a weekly calendar and ‘to do’ list, a daily calendar, and a monthly calendar. (I swear, I’m not getting paid for this, but check out the life planners at www.erincondren.com.) It helps me stay organized with meetings, school conferences, meals and doctor appointments. More than that, simply writing out my ‘to do’ list and crossing it off makes me feel in control. And, as I said, I haven’t missed an obligation yet!

Also, I try not to procrastinate (working on this one all the time!) and I compartmentalize my life. The day is all work and errands and family. Then my 6 year old boy-child goes to bed at 8:00ish, and 5 nights a week I write or handle writing business from 8 or 9 pm until my bedtime. I don’t often set a word or page goal, but simply write until I stop--which means write until I slide sideways out of the chair or my head hits the desk. I have actually woken up with my face on the desk, hands on keyboard, and 20 pages of jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj on my screen.
Oh, I should add I drink a lot of coffee and my house is a disaster zone. Enter at your own peril. 

Any advice for new authors?
Write, write, write. Believe in yourself. Believe you can get better and strive to get better. Trust your instinct, but don’t forget to listen to others. Take time to listen to and develop your own voice. 

Can you give us a hint or two about the next book? Characters, cover, due date? 
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot I can share at this time! But suffice it to say, I have another Spy In The Ton book up my sleeve--this one with a grumpy hero I simply adore! Stay tuned, and I’ll provide you the details as soon as I can!





Despite being a native Michigander, Alyssa Alexander is pretty certain she belongs somewhere sunny. And tropical. Where drinks are served with little paper umbrellas. But until she moves to those white sandy beaches, she survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. She lives with her own set of heroes, aka an ever-patient husband who doesn't mind using a laundry basket for a closet, and a small boy who wears a knight in a shining armor costume for such tasks as scrubbing potatoes 

2 comments:

  1. Outstanding review and I especially enjoyed the interview. How interesting to hear some insight into Alyssa's writing process. I love descriptive novel that reach out to all the sense. This sounds like it does just that. It's on my to read list!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Karen!
    I think you will like the mystery in the story, too!

    ReplyDelete

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