STORY: Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain’s enemies. Badly wounded, he is put in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can’t help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.
Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth…her “hero” is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….
REVIEW: The above book blurb summarizes the story quite well, so I’ll get on in telling you my thoughts about it.
I recently set through 16 episodes of a BBC series from 1970’s called ‘POLDARK’ which is set in 1790’s Cornwall, and it was breathtaking in scenery as well as accuracy of those times. If you have Netflix, I highly recommend you see it as it will bring the setting of Ms. Joyce’s book to life.
If you’ve followed my blog and read my reviews, you know by now that I hate, HATE spoilers, so it will be darn hard to tell you my thoughts without divulging any of them. This is my first ever Brenda Joyce read and without being familiar with her I have to tell you that I have mixed feelings about this book.
First, I loved the plot and the setting. The French Revolution was a time of upheaval, intrigue and social change that France and the world would never forget. It was a time when our hero Dominic Paget willingly went into danger as an English spy and risked everything for his family and his country. The author did an amazing job bringing to us the history of the revolution through Dominic’s point of view and that is the only thing that kept me reading this story.
As the son of a French Aristocratic mother and an English Aristocratic father, presumably he was brought up as a gentleman, with morals and honor as his guiding compass. Speaking the language fluently was one of the reasons he survived in France for as long as he did, undetected, but in the end it was luck and our heroine’s brothers that came to his aid once he was discovered and wounded.
From my first encounter with Julianne I had an impression that she was smart, sharp and very intelligent. She is well read and independent, yet a bit naïve. She lives in Cornwall with her older sister and brothers who love her dearly and are aware of her radical views and associations with the local French sympathizers. On many occasions they’ve voiced their concerns and asked her to stop being as vocal about her views as the government was sure to be watching, but our heroine was full of idealism and chose to ignore those warnings.
And here is where I met a problem with this story.
Both brothers made the decision to drop off a dying man, who they both knew the real identity of, yet deliberately deceived both of their sisters by letting them think him a stranger and a smuggler.
They then leave a stranger alone in their home with these two single young women…
Julianne draws her own conclusions about the identity of Dominic/Charles, and of course she comes to the wrong one and our hero lets her believe that he is a wounded French soldier.
And then she starts drooling and mooning all over a man who she hardly knows. She gets so infatuated that she lets him seduce her, not once, not twice but one full month, not ever taking in account her reputation or the reputation of her family nor thinking of the consequences of those encounters.
And now we come to our hero, who I truly, TRULY thought to like (I am a HUGE sucker for a tortured hero trope), but even after all the things Dominic went through I had a hell-of-a-time liking a man that admits to lack of morals in him during the time of war and systematically and deliberately sets out to seduce a virtuous girl who saved his life thus dishonoring not just the girl, but the family that took him in.
What follows is a deception gone wrong while family loyalties get tested over and over.
In the end, I enjoyed some of the story, but I just couldn’t accept nor warm up to the characters as written. I want my heroes to have morals, and my heroines to have backbone. Neither of them did. The prose alone recommends this book, and as this is the first book in the series The Spymaster’s Men, I will read the second in hopes that I will love the next hero and heroine. That said I will let you decide if you’d like to read this story.
*To buy this book, click on the cover*
*To learn more about the author, click on her name*
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*