Beautifully written, extraordinarily powerful, a rare gem of a read!
Mrs. Valerie Carlton is the widow of a soldier who died in the Peninsular Wars. Disowned by her family for “marrying down,” she survives working as a governess. When the elder son of the family makes unwelcome advances, Valerie leaves, seeking refuge with a close friend until she can find another position. Sir Tarquin Arlingby, a wealthy, handsome bachelor on his way home, is staying at the same inn as Valerie and witnesses her being robbed before she can board the coach. He goes to Valerie’s aid and is instantly attracted to her. As her friend’s home is near his estate, he offers to drive her there.
An unfortunate accident forces the pair to spend a night in a village inn. Over dinner, Valerie talks about her experiences during the Spanish campaign against Napoleon and the sense of mission that she felt following the drum, which she misses in her current life. Sir Tarquin, who is secretly spying for the Crown by masquerading as a smuggler to pass information in and out of France, is intrigued by her bravery and his attraction increases. Valerie is also drawn to the handsome baronet. Tarquin needs a French-speaking woman to pose as a smuggler during a mission to the “City of Smugglers” in Gravelines. When he discovers that Valerie speaks French like a native, he successfully recruits her for the job.
With a compelling and charismatic narrative, Lover, Lady, Smuggler, Spy quickly turns into a novel that will have its readers on the edge of their seats and eager to know what happens next. Another welcome addition to the Regency romance genre from Alicia Quigley, she circles down through the layers of an intrigue-laden plot, laced with timely moments of acuity which are sure to sweep you away. Fans of Quigley will know she effortlessly captures her period settings and it’s no different here. Masterfully making use of her backdrops without allowing them to overwhelm her characters and their story as she bewitches her readers with an exquisite blend of emotion and high adventure. Sensuous and intelligent, it's a multifaceted story, but one where the relationship between the protagonists remains the focal point. For readers drawn to intriguing, multi-dimensional characters Quigley always brings a sense of power and intimacy to her romances and this has to be one of her best yet.
An exuberant novel that attains a subtle of level eroticism most period romances fail to achieve, Lover, Lady, Smuggler, Spy is a must read and a superb introduction to the words of Alicia Quigley. It is recommended without reservation.
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