Monday, March 28, 2016

Love, Lies, and Spies

Author: Cindy Anstey
Info: Swoon Reads, copyright 2016, 368 pages
Netgalley ARC : Release date April 19, 2016

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady.  She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances.  So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments.  Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears.  He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies.  Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other.  Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions...and Juliana herself.

~Goodreads Description

Now this one reminded me of a Jane Austen novel.  And apparently I'm only going to read Regency Era fiction this year :)

Juliana is a scientist.  Not academically trained, mind you, but filled with a passion she shares with her father.  A very tiny passion.  A passion for...ladybugs.  This through me just a little, but I adored how she was of an intellectual mind, not obsessed with seeking out a man - very much like the beloved Elizabeth Bennett.  Wanting to have her family research published, Juliana schemes to stay with her aunt during the London season to gain access to publishing companies in the city.  Unfortunately this means shopping, shopping and more shopping in order to be "presentable".  Before departing for London, while still at the country estate, Juliana as the good fortune of meeting Spencer Northam, a young man with his own secrets.  They decide to use their new friendship to both their advantages and the game is afoot.

There's a lot of inner dialogue that becomes a bit tedious throughout the book, but it is quickly forgotten as you fall in love with both of these characters.  Juliana is strong-willed and quick-witted.  She doesn't buy into the feminine stereotype and wants nothing to do with the institution of marriage (until she meets Mr. Northam of course). Spencer Northam is restless.  He's a young man that is seeking adventure and has found it in a rather uncouth way - espionage.  He is a man of principle with a kind heart and a fierce loyalty.  He is also a man in love.

The romance is believable and adorable.  While both parties have more important things to attend to, they can't deny their connection, and it's one of mutual respect and friendship.  There is enough "mystery" that you want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen and enough "villainy" to make it fun.  Mr. Peybold, an irritating man to say the least, reminded me a bit of John Thorpe in Austen's Northanger Abbey, using manipulations and poor flirting to try to win his way.

Overall, an extremely fun book to read.  For fans of Austen and intrigue.  I can't wait for more by Cindy Anstey.

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