Whisper His Name
When a romance novel features intrigue as a subplot, sometimes the relationship between the hero and heroine can get lost in all the mystery. In Whisper His Name, author Elizabeth Thornton just manages to keep the romance from getting lost, creating a tense, interesting story.
While shopping in Paris for new stock for her bookstore, spinster Abbie Vayle unwittingly has her life drastically changed. A young woman – a spy – slips a book that contains information on French activities into her basket, hoping that the book will reach the right people. Shortly thereafter, the young woman is murdered.
Back in England, Abbie continues to thwart her family’s attempts to marry her off to her best friend Hugh Templar, and tries to live her life as independently as she can. Then, a prowler breaks into her home and informs her that her brother George will be killed if she doesn’t turn over the book. Abbie has no idea what her attacker is talking about, but she agrees out of fear for her brother. It is only the chance actions of her companion, Olivia, that tip her off as to where this mysterious book is. Abbie sets out to retrieve it.
Meanwhile, her friend Hugh has grown suspicious and follows her. His feelings for Abbie have long since transcended that of friendship. But having already gone through a disastrous marriage, he’s not ready to offer for her, and he is reluctant to ask her to have an “open” relationship with him because he doesn’t know how she feels. Hugh follows Abbie and soon finds himself in the middle of a very dangerous situation. This situation makes him determined to protect Abbie and discover the truth, but it also leads him to believe that Abbie has betrayed him. Meanwhile, their enemy is very close and there is a very good chance that one of them will die.
Whisper His Name got off to a great start. The opening scenes in Paris had me practically holding my breath with anticipation. I stayed that way right up until Hugh became deeply involved. Almost immediately, he went from nice guy to arrogant bore, and Abbie, who was such a strong character otherwise, became noticeably weaker around him. Eventually, Hugh’s distrust has a very real and nasty effect and Abbie must suffer the consequences. At one point her response was very hard to accept and the author very nearly lost me.
Fortunately, these little annoyances were eventually overcome. Elizabeth Thornton wove a wonderful tale that kept me imagining everyone as a traitor, looking for spies in every corner and holding my breath to see what would happen next. The resolution of the spy plot was wonderfully written and very tense. The resolution of the romance was slightly less satisfying as Hugh had a sneer plastered on his face until almost the very last minute. But, by the time they fell into each other’s arms I was happily placated by a well done, happy ending.
This book is not without its flaws, and the characters’ behavior can be annoying at times. But if you who like a lot of intrigue with your romance, and you like to be kept guessing right up until the bittersweet end, you might want to pick up a copy of Whisper His Name. But don’t blame me if you suddenly start suspecting all those still-waters people you know of running very, very deep.