Lady Daphne Swift comes from a family with two brothers who have proudly served the Crown. She may be a female, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove that she’s as useful to the war effort as her brothers. She even went so far as to secretly marry a spy. The fact that she just happened to have been pining for Captain Rafe Cavendish for years didn’t hurt matters. But after their first mission, when she realized their marriage had been strictly business, Daphne immediately wanted an annulment. The fiery Daphne has always been a multi-tasker and now she’s hell bent on two things: finding the men who killed her brother and securing her engagement to another man to forget about Rafe forever.
As a spy for the War Office, Captain Rafferty Cavendish has been on dozens of missions. But one mission haunts him, the mission that resulted in the death of Daphne Swift’s eldest brother, Donald. Rafe agreed to work with Daphne once and put her life in danger. Now he must find the men who killed Donald, avenge the family, and convince Daphne to give him one more chance. But Daphne’s enlisted her other older brother, Julian, to help her get a quick and quiet annulment so that she can marry a fop who only wants her for her title and money. Can Rafe convince Daphne to give him one more chance, on the mission and with her heart?
Source: ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
Normally I’m not a big fan of historical spy books, so I was a little worried that might put me off with this book. How wrong I was! Instead it was an immature heroine, an irritating hero and a head-scratching plot that asked me to frequently suspend my disbelief just a little too far – and rarely because of the spy plot.
Firstly, why are they holding parties in London in June? Don’t they realise that most people have fled to the country by then because the city could get unpleasant in the summer. Unless you’re a lord or a politician and needed to vote in the House (of Commons or Lords), in which case you have an excuse. Since this is not mentioned, I expect the lot of them are just lazy good for nothings. Also, why are all these people staying in Daphne’s family’s town house? Why haven’t these people (including a duke and an earl’s heir) got homes of their own to live in? And they keep throwing balls, despite the fact that London would have been thin on company, so who is attending? Get out into the country, you fools!
Speaking of fools, my word, Daphne was annoying. She was a complete brat to Rafe on their previous mission, with her threats to lie to her brother about Rafe compromising her if he wouldn’t take her along. Then, when she knew he’d been told not to touch her and he, funnily enough, rebuffs all her advances, she decides that adventures are awful and not for her and blah, blah, blah. There’s a lot of blah about Daphne for me, she’s supposed to be smart and beautiful and adventurous, but I rarely saw any evidence of such things. She’s also the worst negotiator I’ve read in a long time. Rafe and Delilah run rings around her, yet she’s supposed to be clever. Nope, she’s childish and annoying and not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. See her chosen marriage prospect – the boring, snobbish, social climbing Lord Fitzwell.
Then there’s Rafe. Despite a later claim about how much he respects Daphne, he really doesn’t. He ignores her wishes, winds her up and is generally a smirking, arrogant ass with a massive social chip on his shoulder. His constant refrains about unworthy lords and how they’re not worth anything, and yet how he isn’t worthy enough for Daphne were pretty tedious. I don’t care how good looking he is, the man is dull and I found the idea of him being a spy exceedingly hard to believe.
If you’re interested in that side of things, you’ll have to be patient. The first half of the book is all about the boring London house party in which Daphne tries to marry a man she doesn’t want, while Rafe smirks and weasels about, breaking agreements and sneering at Lord Fitzwell and Daphne. There are also lots of conversations between various couples (from the previous books) that add nothing to the plot except to recap what we already know, with everyone calling everyone else by their first names in a highly unlikely way – I’d have expected the men to use surnames and/or titles at least.
Thank goodness for cousin Delilah, the cheeky minx of a twelve year old with her Francophile tendencies and interfering ways. She’s funny, runs rings around everyone else, and at least provided me with something to like. True, she also started to grate on me after a while, but compared to everyone else she’s great.
Then, finally, once the daft house party is done with, we launch into the unrealistic spy plot. All because Daphne can speak Russian (which she claims at some point her brother assisted her with because he just knew it would be helpful one day, naturally). There are many aspects to it that either make no sense or clearly won’t work, but I won’t go into them for spoiler reasons and because I could go on all day. Suffice it to say, it’s all a bit daft. However, it’s also much, much more interesting than the first half and though I found the conclusion dubious at best, it almost made me like Daphne. Almost. Though I still have my doubts about her intelligence.
So, overall, this didn’t impress me much. If you like light, fluffy historicals that don’t really bother with details or credulous reasons for things, and have lots of flurrying conversations without much point, then you’ll probably find something to enjoy here – depending on your tolerance for bratty heroines and arrogant heroes. The spy stuff is more fun than thrilling, but at least it was interesting. The house party and romance, however, I found a little dull and quite trying. Fans of the series will probably enjoy seeing all the old characters back, but as someone new to this author I just found them a bit annoying. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of this series. Sadly, I have absolutely no trouble resisting this rogue, so maybe this one just wasn’t for me.
Irresistible Rogue is November 3rd.
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