AUTHOR(S): K.C. Bateman
SERIES: Secrets and Spies #2
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE: October 18, 2016
LENGTH: 266 pages
DATE READ: October 2016
READING CHALLENGES: 2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Bluestocking Heroine, Spy Hero
TROPES: Childhood Friends, Unrequited Love, Road Romance
RATING: 4.25 STARS
August 1815. The war with France is officially over, Napoleon’s an exile on St Helena, but Europe is still a very dangerous place to be.
Kidnapped and held for ransom at nineteen, ducal heir William Ravenwood knows the only person he can rely on is himself. Now part of a spy ring that includes his friends Nicolas and Richard Hampden, he’s the smuggler known as The Raven, a ruthless agent who specializes in rescuing hostages and prisoners of war from captivity.
Raven longs to discover the fate of his colleague, Christopher ‘Kit’ Carlisle, who’s been missing, presumed dead, for over two years. He’s also equally determined to stay away from the one thing he knows is dangerous to his health – the bane of his life, his best friends’ infuriating and provocative little sister, Heloise.
Heloise is a brilliant code breaker, one of the English government’s most valuable assets. She’s also loved Raven for years, but considering that he rejected her at sixteen, before her face was scarred rescuing her brother from an icy river, she’s certain he doesn’t want her now, despite his outrageous flirting.
But when Heloise decodes a message that proves Kit is alive and a prisoner in Spain, Raven realizes she’s in grave danger. With French agents determined to silence her, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe – even if that means taking her to Spain with him as an unwilling hostage.
As they face French deserters and Spanish freedom fighters, Raven and Heloise try to ignore the simmering attraction that’s been building between them for eight long years. The differences between them are striking but they’ve always had a strange underlying bond. Heloise might be scarred outwardly, but Raven’s wounds are all on the inside. He knows he’s not worthy of her love—a shadowed Hades pining for sun-kissed Persephone—but he’s not above showing her passion for the short time they’re together.
A master at decoding complex messages, Heloise finds Raven frustratingly hard to read, but as their lives hang in the balance she’s determined to unravel his secrets and unlock his dark, elusive heart…MY THOUGHTS:
Why I Read It...
I adored the first book in the series, To Steal a Heart. Heloise and Raven were very minor characters in that book, but it was obvious that their story would be epic. I also was very lucky to receive a review copy from Loveswept via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
What I Liked About It...
1. Heloise was fantastic. She was smart, generous, and willing to learn from her mistakes. I just loved the whole concept of her being a code breaker and liked the little tidbits the author threw in about that world. I also appreciated Heloise's determination to live life the way she thought best rather than bowing to society's pressures.
2. Raven was a great hero for Heloise. His past and profession forced him to make difficult choices, but he was still a good person. I always have a soft spot for heroes who are in an unrequited love situation with the heroine. He respected Heloise's intellect and loved her for the amazing person that she was. I also liked the way he grew to have more confidence in his worth as a person.
3. Spies are not normally my cup of tea in historical romance, but I enjoyed the way K.C. Bateman handled that element. The plot was fast-paced and full of action. I liked the way the settings changed and allowed me to learn more about the time immediately after the end of the Napoleonic wars.
4. I have always been interested in the Hades/Persephone myth and thought this was a good retelling. I appreciated the tweaks that the author made to the original story such as the "kidnapping" and the pomegranate seeds. Anyone who is familiar with the myth will recognize the little details the author threw in, but also will probably enjoy the updates she made.
What I Disliked About It...
1. Raven had a few annoying moments where he kept harping on the fact that he believed he was unworthy of Heloise. I understood why he felt that way, but it just kept being brought up even when it should have been obvious to him that Heloise didn't care.
Would I Recommend It...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am so happy that I discovered K.C. Bateman's historicals. Her characters, plots, and writing style really work for me so I look forward to what she does next. I definitely recommend this book if you like action and smart as a whip heroines with your romance.
I received an eARC of this book from Loveswept via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.