The Secret Hunter
The Secret Hunter could easily have been renamed A Regency Miss and her Pug: A Love Story for I felt more of a connection between Gwenllian and Oliver (the pug in question) than with Daniel, the hero.
Gwenllian Lloyd and Daniel Wyckliff “meet cute” in Sydney Gardens, Bath when Oliver causes a collision and all three tumble to the ground. It is love at first sight for Gwenllian and Daniel, and they meet several more times in Bath before repairing to the country where Gwenllian’s sister Letticia has arranged a last minute house party designed to further the romance.
Daniel is not really the wealthy gentleman he passes himself for; he is instead a…wait for it…spy! on a case to ferret out a traitor. He is told that the traitor can be found at Primroselea Park, an estate on the channel, and the same estate to which he has been invited. What a coincidence! Could his sweet Gwenllian be in cahoots with the French? And if not her, then who?
There is no dearth of unpleasant characters at this house party from which to choose a villain, though it was blatantly clear from the onset who it was. And, as Gwenllian spends much more time with her dog than with Daniel, there wasn’t much romance either. I freely admit that I am not a dog person, but I defy even a dog person to find Gwenllian and Oliver cute. Oliver likes to be held and carried, which Gwenllian is happy to do, even to the point of holding and carrying him around during teatime. Oliver also sheds excessively and every time Gwenllian sets him down, she must brush off pug hair – not something that I’d want happening while I was drinking my tea.
Saville has obviously done her research on Bath and it had an authentic feel to it, though part of that is due to the fact that some scenes were evocative of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. But that is about the only thing I cared for. The unlikability of many of the characters, the disjointed plot, the over-the-top ending, the dog hair, made this a slog of a read for me.
With the death of the Traditional Regency by the major publishing houses, several small print and e-publishers have attempted to fill the void. However, books like The Secret Hunter do nothing to help the cause.