By Joanna Bourne
Did you know that, prior to publishing this book, Ms. Bourne hadn't published a book in 25 years? That just seems... wrong. Thank the gods that changed. We love this book. It's a DIK for us and it's a top 100 Romance here at AAR. If you've never read it, well, we feel a teeny bit sorry for you. It's superb. In our review, we wrote:
Annique is the daughter of spies, been raised from a child to be a spy, and has learned her job well. Though she is just 19, she has worked for France as a boy, and as a siren, in battlefields and boarding houses for years, earning an impressive reputation and the respect of all members of the spying community - no matter their nationality. Annique does indeed hold the secret of the Albion plans and the knowledge tears her apart. She knows that the invasion cannot succeed and will only cause untold death and devastation, but can she bring herself to give the plans to the enemy English? The fate of all those lives rest solely upon her shoulders, and the weight of her decision is a burden no one should have to bear. Annique is a wholly unique character and a fascinating one. She is incredibly competent and skillful - a believable master spy - and I was blown away by her resourcefulness and resolve. Grey is a more straightforward English spy, though also frighteningly competent and pragmatic. He has met his match in Annique, however, and it is fun to watch him try and figure her out and stay one step ahead, failing to do so more than once. Grey's real beauty as a character, though, is his steadfastness. He and Annique engage in many battles of wit, lies and deceptions, but there is never any doubt that he loves her throughout. He never jumps to conclusions about Annique's own feelings about him - seeming to know them better than she does herself - but accepts that her lies are part of the spy game. They are each doing their jobs and that includes lying to each other at times, but they also accept that the love is not a lie and cannot be concealed from the other, though at times they wish it could. And while the book earns a "Warm" rating, Annique and Grey's love is a love of the intellect as well as the body. It's a combination that cannot be beaten and makes this a sexier book than the Warm rating might indicate. I cannot say enough good about The Spymaster's Lady. It is smart, masterful writing and I cannot wait to see what Bourne does next; I'm hoping for Adrian's story - I fell for him a bit. What a great way to start the new year!

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