Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: A Spy Unmasked (In the Crown's Secret Service #2) by Tina Gabrielle

Book coverA Spy Unmasked (In the Crown's Secret Service #1) by Tina Gabrielle
Purchase link: Amazon

My rating: star star star star

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame

London, 1820 The mission did not go quite as Robert Ware--known in society as the new Earl of Kirkland--planned. A spy in the service of His Majesty, Robert is a "guest" at a masquerade party as he retrieves vital information for a murder investigation. Until he's quite unexpectedly interrupted by an exquisite, masked woman with glittering green eyes. And a pistol she has cocked and aimed right at him... Lady Sophia Merrill has defiantly taken up justice's shining sword, determined to expose the brigand who murdered her eccentric but brilliant father, and stole his latest invention. Now she must masquerade as Robert's betrothed in order to infiltrate the Inventor's Society and find the killer. But the undeniable potent attraction between them not only imperils the investigation, but Sophia's reputation... and both of their lives.

Spy stories are my favorite of the Regency historicals. I love the intrigue and mystery as an additional element to the plot, the dashing men and daring ladies who serve the Crown, to uncover secrets and to right wrongs. It's also the fact that I'm a complete sucker for a hero or heroine who serves his country. To me, there's no nobler sacrifice.

This story had a great plot and a great mystery. There were times during the story when I would get really annoyed with Sophia and would be tempted to not finish the book, but the mystery drew me back in.

As for Sophia, she was impulsive, reckless, headstrong and not the spy. She was merely on a mission to uncover her father's murderer as she stumbles upon Robert as he is carrying out his mission and ends up getting involved. There were moments when I wanted to slap her silly because of her impulsiveness when she could have put the investigation in jeopardy and there were moments when I didn't mind her so much. She had a strength and courage that saw her through some of the more difficult times of the investigation, and enough self-awareness and bravery to fight for what she believed in and what she wanted with Robert towards the end.

I loved Robert. He was the perfect Regency James Bond-esque spy for me. He was handsome, skilled and very, very tortured. Both he and Sophia resist their attraction to each other for the better half of the story as he tries to protect her from himself and from the people he's investigating, and as Sophia tries to convince him that she is worthy of being an equal partner in the investigation while it's clear that she is not. The whole resisting their attraction thing is becoming a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I'm getting very tired of couples fighting against each other for the better part of the book. I want them to want each other and then hold on and not let go ... but that's neither here nor there.

Regardless of Robert's desire to resist Sophia, there are some wonderful moments when he finds that he can't.
"The iris-blue hue of his eyes sharpened. "I despise the idea of any man touching you, gazing upon you with ill-disguised lust."
"Why? Because we are supposed to act the loving couple?"
"No. Because it makes my gut clench and my blood pound and because I want to beat any admirer to a bloody pulp."

Ah, such passion. Such unrestrained brutal honestly to his feelings for Sophia. Any girl would be swooning to be on the receiving end of that. I know I did when I read it.

The mystery they were to solve was well integrated into the overall story and I really enjoyed it. I probably enjoyed the mystery more than the romance itself, at least that was the case in the earlier parts of the story. As the story progressed and Robert started to thaw with regards to his feelings for Sophia and Sophia started to understand Robert's tortured soul a lot better, I really got to enjoying the romance in the story too.

All in all, a great start to the series. I'm particularly looking forward to the next book in the series and reading Jane and Gareth's story.

View all my reviews

The other book in the series:


About the author

auTina Gabrielle, an award-winning author, is an attorney and former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She's the author of adventurous Regency romances In The Barrister's Bed, In The Barrister's Chambers, Lady Of Scandal, and A Perfect Scandal from Kensington Books. "A Spy Unmasked" is the first book in her new Regency romance series, "In The Crown's Secret Service," and will be released from Entangled Publishing on November 10, 2014. "At The Spy's Pleasure" will be available in April 2015. Tina's books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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