The Beauty and the Spy
Grade : C

I’ve just read three English-set historical romances involving heroes who work for the government and, if these books didn’t have different names on the cover, I would swear that they were all written by the same author. Of the three, The Beauty and the Spy features the most clichés and, while there’s nothing horribly wrong with the book, there’s nothing unique it either.

Charlotte Sinclair’s mourning period for her bastard of a husband has finally ended, leaving her free to jump back into society. But when Charlotte discovers across her father’s journal and realizes that he is a spy, society doesn’t seem as appealing and her own life seems rather boring and insignificant. But maybe she is more like her father than she realizes for when she notices Nicholas Wright acting peculiar at a social function, her instincts kick in. Without a second thought, Charlotte follows the man, using the skills she read about in her father’s journal to track him down.

Nicholas Wright is on a mission to find a traitor to England. What he finds instead is a beautiful, impertinent woman spying on him from the inside of a wardrobe. Charlotte has heard everything and mistakenly believes Nicholas to be the double agent. With no other alternative, Nicholas is forced to drag Charlotte along as he chases after the real turncoat. Nicholas has never met a woman like Charlotte and he feels an instant attraction. Instead of being frightened as any typical woman would be, Charlotte is constantly standing up to him and trying to escape. But when Nicholas finds out that Charlotte is the daughter of his superior, he realizes that not only has he endangered her life, but also his career.

Soon, Nicholas finds himself captivated, not only by Charlotte’s beauty and her heaving bosom (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but also by her strength and intelligence. Charlotte has no desire to be owned by another man, yet that is just what Nicholas does by keeping her captive. At first Charlotte attempts to escape because she believes Nicholas to be a traitor, but when she realizes that he is loyal, Charlotte tries to escape to save herself and her sister. When her escape plans are thwarted time after time, Charlotte settles in for a suspenseful chase as she realizes that she just may be of some help to Nicholas. And, in fact, Charlotte just may have some of her father’s spy skills after all.

Most annoying by far is the book’s stereotypical prose. I had to read about the heroine’s large breasts so often that my eyes began to hurt from rolling them. (And it’s not because I am envious – ok, maybe just a little.) The author also needed to show more than tell. When it came down to it, I just did not believe in the characters. The author tells us that the hero is a spy to be reckoned with, but I just did not see his tough persona in his actions. In fact, the hero seemed kind of weak to me. I certainly did not believe that the heroine was some meek, pathetic woman who had been in a horrific relationship. Just because an author says that a character is a certain way doesn’t mean the reader will buy it and I wasn’t buying much of anything.

Although too much back-story can be a problem, this is one instance in which more of a past – especially of the heroine’s life – would have helped to make the characters more dimensional. I felt as if I was thrown into the action even before I got to know or care about the characters. Additionally, the suspense plot was rather ordinary and certain actions just did not add up. Nicholas immediately tells Charlotte everything and it didn’t quite make sense as to why Charlotte had to stay with Nicholas. There certainly should have been somewhere he could have dumped her and I am sure she was more of a burden than a help. And Charlotte’s constant tries at escape, only to be thwarted, got very old.

All in all, there’s nothing greatly unique about either the characters or the story. In fact, the author’s voice read much like many others. The book did pick up, however, towards the last third when the suspense began to kick in and when the characters were in action, they were much more likable and interesting. I did enjoy the relationship between Charlotte and her sister, but it was cut too short. Ultimately, The Beauty and the Spy book is fine if you are desperate for something to pass the time, but if you’re looking for a unique read with intrigue, believable romance, and suspense, then look elsewhere. In the end, the book was too much like so many other light historicals out there to be of any real interest.

Reviewed by Lori Sowell

Grade: C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : October 4, 2004

Publication Date: 2004

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Recent Comments …

  1. Personal impression is subjective. What works for one person doesn’t always work for others, as we all know. However, when…

  2. I appreciate your comments, I find their tone completely in line with the tone of the review itself, not an…

Lori Sowell

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