Love and Let Spy
This is the third book in the Lord and Lady Spy series using classic (or at least popular) spy stories revamped as romance novels, the first being Lord and Lady Spy (pulling from Mr. and Mrs. Smith), followed by True Spies (from True Lies), and with a short novella or two to round out the series. Love and Let Spy has it roots in James Bond, a series (both book and movie) I have always enjoyed. It’s an interesting premise, and I really liked the gender-bent characters and roles, the women spies and inventors, and the secondary characters.
Since her parents died when she was 6 years old, Miss Jane Bonde has lived with her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Melbourne, participating in London society. What society doesn’t know, however, is that the lovely and enchanting Miss Bonde has a nightlife – she acts as a spy for the Barbican Group, an offshoot of the Foreign Office, and is one of the best. Trained by her uncle (the leader of the group, called “M”), Jane has focused her entire life on the safety and security of England. And now, she has to get married.
It could be worse, though, since Dominic Griffyn, her husband-to-be, is not looking for a traditional wife either. To be fair, he isn’t looking for a wife at all. His rather tumultuous (and traumatic) past haunts him still, for good reason, and he has no desire to subject a woman to that, or open her up to ridicule as the wife of a bastard. But Jane is no simpering miss – she has seen and done things that would cause most in her social group to faint outright – and can stand up to both Dominic and anything else the underworld chooses to throw at her.
Which is a good thing, because there’s an enemy agent in the shadows.
While at times the James Bond/Jane Bonde comparison was stretched a bit, it was fun overall. It was interesting to see a female spy in the 1800s – history has shown they existed, but they are often left out or relegated to the side lines. I have to admit, though, I was waiting for the Regency equivalent of a Bond girl, like Pussy Galore or Plenty O’Toole, to show up. We have Miss Qwillen (“Q”) and Mr. Moneypence (Moneypenny), so why not a Miss Galore? Or Mr. Galore, as the case may be.
Miss Bonde is an interesting choice for a romance heroine – she’s strong and very independent (she keeps trying to shoo Dominic away as he keeps following her during her sneaky spy missions,) and well able to take care of herself. I loved that we didn’t have any of those moments when the strong female character has to be rescued by the hero because she just can’t hack it. Jane and Dominic spent most of their time rescuing each other.
Dominic is just an interesting character overall. He’s got a rather traumatic history, which leaves him with screaming nightmares, occasional flashbacks, and a strong aversion to being touched. There’s a lovely moment where Dominic has given Jane his “rules” for their interactions (no kissing, no touching, no surprising,) and Jane turns right back around and says “I won’t follow your rules…we decide on mutual terms or none at all.” She is willing to compromise and work within his needs, but still stands up for what she needs from the relationship. Communication! It works!
Overall the story was fun, the characters were entertaining, and the balance between spy novel and romance novel worked pretty well. It’s a bit cheesy, perhaps, but I enjoyed it. I also liked that even though I haven’t gotten to read the others in this series, it was easy to follow along. With all the series-burnout recently, it’s a nice change to have something you can read without having to go back and find the two or twelve or twenty previous novels.