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With six weeks to go before her twenty-first birthday and freedom to control her own money, Caroline Trent is running away from an unwanted marriage when she's captured by dashing Blake Ravenscroft, who mistakes her for a French spy, Carlotta de Leon. She only needs a place to hide for six weeks, so, believing that she can come clean at any time, she plays along. There's a lot of quirky comedy in this book, which is good because the plot is frankly ridiculous. Blake and Caroline are engaging characters, however and James Sidwell, Marquis of Riverdale is an excellent secondary character.
Caroline Trent is not having a good evening. Firstly her guardian's son, Percival, attacks her on his father's orders - for which she, quite rightly, shoots him in the shoulder. But no sooner has she escaped the house then she's accosted by a man who will insist on calling her Carlotta de Leon.
However, for Caroline this turn of events couldn't be more fortuitous. With just six weeks to go until she comes into her inheritance, she's more than happy to let this stranger keep her out of sight. After all, the last thing she wants is for her guardian to determine her whereabouts.
Yes, everything is going perfectly, until the Marquis of Riverdale arrives, takes one look at her and confirms that she is NOT Carlotta de Leon.
For Blake Ravenscroft, Caroline's captor, this news is both relieving and infuriating. Having worked for the War Office for nearly a decade the prospect of failing is galling in the extreme, but nowhere near as bad as being attracted to a traitor.
But Caroline is no traitor, just a young woman unconsciously tangled up by circumstance. Even so, Blake fights the attraction, because he's sworn never to marry...
The plot of this book is really quite ludicrous, and the fact that Blake is supposed to be one of the War Office's top agents never quite rings true. However, who cares, because this book is hilarious. The exchanges between Caroline and Blake veer from childishly entertaining to laugh-out-loud funny, with poor James (the Marquis) either caught in the crossfire, or doing his best to wind Blake up even further. And then there are the servants. Brilliant.
Too much of the plot remains hazy at best and unexplained (why Oliver is so desperate for Caroline's money, the traitor's plot and aftermath, etc), but to be honest it doesn't matter. Caroline is too amusing for such things to hold this book back.
Let your sense of humour loose, sit back and enjoy! (Then get hold of 'How to Marry a Marquis' because James is back, and he's wonderful.)
I enjoyed this book. It has an appealing plot, and I liked Caroline Trent and Blake Ravenscroft (yes indeed!). Of course, Julia Quinn writes well, and with some gentle humour, so I always expected it to be a good read. It is both a romance and a spy story - so there is plenty to keep your interest.
I would recommend this book, and if you haven't read any books by Ms Quinn then I suggest you start here!
I love how the book is paced quickly. We don't have to wait forever for the story to pick up nor to meet our main characters. The romance is so sweet and sexy and made me want more with every turn of the page.s
After picking up
What Happens in London
, at a used bookstore and falling in love with Julia Quinn's style, I decided that I had to start adding more of her stuff to my romance shelf. I decided on this one, because I love spy fiction as much as I love banter, and this seemed like it could be an amazing combination of the two.
In the end, though, the spy hero is kind of the weak link in the book, at least for me. I liked him at first, when he found himself laughing with the heroine despite thinking she's an enemy spy, but when that misconception's cleared up, he seems to lose a lot of his sense of humor, and he's always growling at the heroine because MY FIANCEE DIED, NOW I MUST SMOTHER YOU IN MY PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS. That is, when he's not just plain angsting about Dead Fiancee and how he Must Never Love a Woman Again. This doesn't seem to have annoyed some readers, judging from the reviews, but to me, he was such a prickly drag by the end of the book that I couldn't see why the heroine thought he was so great- I'd have been ready to elope with the Marquis.
Also, Dead Fiancee's name is Marabelle, This didn't strike me as a particularly realistic name for the period, so whenever she'd get mentioned, I'd roll my eyes. My eyes got a lot of exercise by the time the epilogue rolled around.
I loved pretty much everything else- the side characters are fun and don't feel flat, I loved Caroline's dictionary/diary and quick wit, etc., so I'd still rank this book pretty highly and recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind angsty love interests. Personally, though, I'm looking forward to passing this one on.