Throwback Thursday Reviews!
Romance, Intrigue, Suspense and...chocolate!
Francesca Dashing falls into the Earl of Winterbourne's arms while she is sneaking around a neighbors stables. She is trying to help an abused horse. Winterbourne has been sent to Hampshire by the Foreign Office to investigate a local smuggling ring and capture it's leader. Francesca intrigues him and after she is mysteriously attacked Ethan is determined to protect her.
Ms. Galen has created a cast of memorable characters in this book. Both the heroine and hero have secrets. Francesca has returned home to the country after a broken engagement. She is strong willed, feisty and loves her chocolate treats and gingerbread. Francesca has a small animal hospital where she devotes herself to injured and abused animals. Winterbourne is a spy ; a very handsome, sexy spy with auburn hair and amber eyes. He is visiting his brothers estate to ferret out the leader of a local smuggling group. Winterbourne believes that the attacks on Francesca are not random. He senses that Cesca has not been totally honest with him concerning her broken betrothal with Roxbury. Winterbourne's valet, Pocket and Cesca's mother, Lady Brigham are my favorite secondary characters. Pocket has Ethan's best wishes in mind whether he is handing him a glass of brandy, brushing dirt off of his suits or helping him put together a romantic picnic supper. Lady Brigham is a hoot. She is quite busy trying to marry off Cesca to Ethan and her love of all things Italian will make you laugh (and laugh).
Shana Galen adds several additional elements to this story which make it stand apart from a typical regency adventure. The author includes two social issues which are not standard fare in a regency adventure; body image and physical abuse. Francesca's Mother admonishes her daughter in Italian when Cesca reaches for a chocolate tart when they share tea with Winterbourne. Lady Brigham announces to Winterbourne that "Francesca may not be la bella di famiglia --that title is usually given to my younger daughter--but you will not find a sweeter girl in all of England."
While You Were Spying is full of romance, intrigue and passion. The storyline is well - paced and the last few chapters are suspenseful. What sets this novel apart from other adventure stories is that the characters have everyday experiences. Both Ethan and Francesca have been disappointed in love, how they approach their situations adds authenticity to both their characters and the story. Can Francesca and Ethan put their pasts behind them and learn to trust each other?
I found the resolution to be rewarding. I just loved this book; from the very regency inspired cover to the chocolate loving heroine and her passionate hero to the suspense filled conclusion. Why You Were Spying is a must read for Ms. Galen's many fans!
Review by Susan Gorman