I've always been in awe of an author who can write one excellent book, but to follow it with yet another recommended read is a feat indeed. Elizabeth Boyle has achieved this feat with her newest novel, Brazen Heiress.
Set almost a decade after Brazen Angel, this romance centers around Lily D'Artiers, who appeared as a child in the earlier romance. Lily has fully inherited her sister's gift for spy work and deception, but she has her own personal style. Sent to Paris to play the part of a French heiress, Lily is accompanied by the man who fascinated her in her youth - Webb Dryden. Despite his rejection of her then, Lily still finds herself drawn to the handsome agent. When Webb finally begins to develop feelings for her, Lily's victory is a hollow one, for she harbors a secret that could destroy their every chance of happiness.
Webb is shocked to discover that the hoyden who used to plague him has grown into an enticing blonde goddess. Even more surprising is her talent for spy work and deception. As he tries to discover all her many facets and secrets, Webb finds himself physically drawn to Lily, and it isn't long before this attraction gives way to more tender feelings.
Lily has always loved Webb. Despite her fear that he will reject her once uncovering her secret - she's a double agent - she gives into her feelings and revels in what little time she believes they have together. Webb has other ideas. He wants to be together for the rest of their lives - however short that time may be. With Napoleon breathing down their necks, there is no way of knowing whether or not they'll ever make it home.
I've become a big fan of Boyle's work after reading the first two books in the Brazen series. While Brazen Heiress lacks the lightning-fast pace of its predecessor, it is still a very good read. I loved the many plot twists Boyle tossed in to keep readers on their toes. The characters got into quite a few scrapes, and each time I wondered how they were going to get out of them.
Lily was an excellent heroine. She was strong, witty and intelligent. At times she made bad decisions and wanted to run away, but she always faced the consequences. She also kept Webb on his toes, which was good because he had a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth when he was with her. Webb's indecisiveness was one of the few problems I had with the book. He was a great character - perfect for Lily - but he spent a bit too much time yo-yo-ing in his feelings for her that he got a little annoying. He spent much of the book not trusting her and being angry with her, and when he finally had reason to be angry with her, he seemed a bit too quick to forgive her. This seemed inconsistent for a man who'd almost died several times defending his country.
This quibble ties into the other quibble I had with Brazen Heiress - the quick resolution at the end. Lily's duplicity was too quickly swept under the carpet for me. Given that it was kept hanging over her head for the entire book, it seemed inconsistent that the author didn't give it more attention or detail.
Those niggles aside, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. Webb and Lily are very original characters and are supported by some of the most entertaining secondary characters I've read in a long time. Not only does Boyle create intricate plots, but her characters are multi-dimensional as well. Apparently another Brazen book is scheduled for release in June, 1999. That gives me plenty of time to get caught up on all the work I put off while I was caught up in this book.
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