Title: My Lady, My Spy
Author: Sheridan Jeane
Series: Secrets and Seduction
Genre: Victorian Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 21st June
London, 1854 ~ Frederick is a spy for Queen Victoria. On the night of one of the most critical missions of his life, everything goes wrong. His hands are both burned and useless, his brother loses the one item that could avert a war, and worst of all, Lady Josephine Harrington just caught him in a lie.
Josephine is furious. She thought she’d found the perfect man. Unfortunately, that was before Frederick slept with her, avoided her for a week, and then lied to her. Again.
He lives in a world of shadows. She values truth and integrity. If they want to find a future together, something will have to change.
Source: ARC from the author via email
This fourth tale from the Secrets and Seductions series runs concurrently with the last book (Once Upon a Spy), but from the perspective of two different characters. You don’t have to have read the third book to read this one, however, Frederick is very much on the sidelines when it comes to all the all-important spy word and this book does not fill you in on why the Church register is important or who Antonia is or why she wants the book too, or even much about Frederick’s relationship with his brother. So if this is your first entry into this series, it will feel full of holes.
Which is a shame. I was quite looking forward to learning more about Frederick and why he became a spy. Except that doesn’t come up. In fact nothing about Frederick’s past comes up. We get him fully formed exactly as he is now. There is no explanation of how he became a spy, when he became a spy, what big heavy secrets he is hiding (that comes out as a surprise right at the end, unless you’ve read the other book) and as a result I couldn’t warm to him. He needs more depth, more history, more… anything, really.
Josephine suffers from a similar lack of colour. We don’t learn anything about her marriage, except vague pieces here and there. I thought her husband was much older, but towards the end I found out he probably wasn’t. Then again I don’t know how old Josephine or Frederick are either, just that she’s young to be a widow and he’s young to take on extra responsibilities.
It would have been nice to have known more about their relationship too. There is nothing about how they met or why Josephine suddenly decided to sleep with him. According to her he pursued her for a year before she succumbed to his seduction. According to him, he thought she was lovely, but he didn’t want to get too close, until she came to his bed and he couldn’t resist spending a weekend with her. What I really wanted to know, though, was how she worked out that he was a spy. What gave it away? And if she was so smart, why on earth didn’t she realise he was lying to her when he says he’ll stay home?
In terms of romance, I didn’t feel much chemistry between these two – probably because they aren’t actually together all that much. All of their relationship has effectively already happened before this book, so there’s just a lot of reflection about what’s best for the other and protecting themselves and so on, while Frederick tries to patch up the mistakes that have been made (without explaining what they are or why it matters) and Josephine… to be honest, I don’t know what she does for most of this book, except take a trip to the British Museum and angst about being lied to by a man she already knows is a spy.
There’s also a scene with Queen Victoria in which the queen is incredibly informal. She could have been just any other character in the book, in fact, complete with occasionally modern turns of phrase. So many chances for the royal we, so rarely used. Albert was also still alive at this point, so I might have expected him to be present too.
As a companion to Once Upon a Spy, this does a nice job of filling in what Frederick was up to behind the scenes. I found it an okay read, if a little lacking in depth. As a standalone book, however, it’s full of holes and feels incomplete. Overall, it left me with more questions than answers when it comes to both characters, and although I did enjoy the ending, I sadly didn’t enjoy the book as much as I’d hoped.
My Lady, My Spy is out June 21st!
Visit Sheridan Jeane for more details.