by Andrea Pickens, historical (2008)
Grand Central Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-446-61799-4
First off, stop reading this review at once if you have not read The Spy Wore Silk because even the name of the hero in this book is a big spoiler to The Spy Wore Silk. Really, don't torture yourself if you have plans to read The Spy Wore Silk any time in the future. Stop reading at once. I mean it.
If you have read the previous related book The Spy Wore Silk, you will remember just how hard you were hit in the head that the heroine of Seduced By A Spy is going to be Shannon and her beau is going to be Alexandr Orlov. In this story, those two meet again when they find themselves once again on the same side in the same mission - to prevent the assassination of the Scottish artillery expert Angus McAllister by the French. She's English and he's Russian, but remember, this is a time when Russia and England are best buddies and an upstart named Lenin hasn't shown up yet to spoil everything.
I have some big problems with the story. Shannon is an inexperienced spy who has yet to undergo her first official field work, so I find it hard to believe that her bosses will send her, unsupervised, on this crucial mission especially after the stunt she pulled in The Spy Wore Silk. Has England suddenly run out of experienced secret agents? Maybe those agents have all gone on honeymoons after finding wives in other spy romances, I suppose. I also find it difficult to imagine why anyone will believe that it is a good idea to pair Orlov and Shannon together for such a crucial mission when it's clear that there are many interpersonal issues between those two that can jeopardize the mission.
Shannon is not a good spy at all. She's very emotional and every emotion that she experiences shows on her face. Even Orlov isn't above using her weakness to manipulate her once or twice in this story. Shannon is also prone to saving the kiddies and helping the innocents, and she does what she does with all the subtlety of an elephant stampede. Shannon would make a great political activist or even a superhero, but she is a terrible spy because everything she feels, says, or does is obvious to everyone else. She also pulls some reckless stunts here that make me cringe.
The only reason why this book doesn't get the same treatment that I gave the book featuring the greatest assassin in England is that, despite being a terrible spy, Shannon can actually take care of herself once she's in hot soup. She will make a pretty good muscle, really, and I am impressed at how she can often fight her way out of the nonsense her own recklessness puts her in. Orlov on the other hand is a rather standard spy hero. There are some attempts by the author to give him some character by highlighting his apparent Russian melancholic side, whatever that is, but he still comes off on the rather flat side. He's an okay hero.
Indeed, this is an okay story. Compared to the more interesting characters in The Spy Wore Silk, the more conventional characters here come off lacking in many ways, but still, the pacing is fine and the romance is entertaining and fun to follow. It's just that Shannon's personality is completely wrong for her role as this undercover spy and assassin and her bosses also pull off a few stunts that do not make sense. It's hard to take this story seriously when there are some huge gaping logic holes, after all. A part of me will always wish that these characters are placed in a better story, where their actions will make better sense.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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