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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Abandonment, spies and romance--a different take!

Tempting the Earl (The Muses' Salon #3) by Rachael Miles

So how should you react when your father's drugged you, kidnapped you and then presented you with a bride as a fait acompy. If your Harrison Walgrave, the Earl of Levesford, you acquiesce, bed your bride and then flee to London and points abroad as an important secret agent for the English government.
The left behind bride, Olivia Walgrave, is a woman of determination and strength--and an agent for the government. I Really liked Olivia.  She was a fighter and survivor. Coming from an unsure childhood her fate could have been quite different if not for Lord Roderick's (Waverley's father) rescue of her, and subsequent placing of her in Mrs Flints school--a place where apparently young girls are educated and turned out as agents for the crown.
Olivia has spent her years since being abandoned by Harrison yet determined to keep the estate in good order. She has also gathered together a little family of mistreated people employed as servants, and a gaggle of scholars--seven really. After twelve years of not sighting her husband, Olivia has decided to have her marriage to Harrison overturned. Harrison decides to investigate the situation in person, setting his solicitor to make enquiries on several different fronts.
Over the years Olivia has continued her work for the government as a writer exposing issues that need addressing and thereby soliciting insider information and pinpointing leaks or dangerous subversives. There's a mysterious list that she and Harrison are separately working on that completely baffled me.
Here's where it all becomes complex, with one strand of the mystery dogging the other and tripping across the basic lines. Somewhat confusing to me, newly come to the series.
There's threats and more to both Livy and Harrison.
I must admit to being somewhat cross with Harrison from time to time. For the best spy in town he's certainly obtuse and laxadaisical when it comes to his own affairs.
I loved the Seven--the scholars. More like a bunch of puppies than people. Although one surprises!
Now I need to read the others in the series to see what light, if any, can be thrown on what I don't understand.
Still, a refreshing approach to the whole regency romance spy genre. Interestingly, this whole spy school for young ladies oeuvre is becoming quite the thing in all sorts of historical genres I've been lately reading.

A NetGalley ARC 

***1/2

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