Agatha Blaine: Undercover Passion
by Lucinda Thorne, historical (2007)
Loose Id, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-510-4

Now this is something I don't come across every day. Lucinda Thorne's debut Agatha Blaine: Undercover Passion is set in 1941, at the beginning of World War 2, and it deals with our heroine, Agatha Blaine, an unsuspecting lingerie salesgirl who is picked to be a spy by Major Jack Bentley.

This story is told in first person so everything in this story is from Agatha's point of view. Bored and feeling abandoned by her fiancé who has gone off to join the codebreakers in Bletchley Park, she initially believes that Jack is inviting her out for a fling. Little does she realize that she will end up in the Ministry of Defense building and being recruited to be a spy.

Any idea I have that this is going to be a more sober tale of romance and espionage, though, flies out the window when Agatha ends up wearing naughty lingerie and getting spanked by Jack on the table in the Ministry's office as part of her "audition". Don't roll up your eyes, people, he's just testing her to see whether she will follow his orders without questioning. Complications arise when Agatha is used as a bait to get close to the Nazi spy in question, Count Rufus, and locate evidence of his misdeeds as well as the whereabouts of the missing agent Catherine Carlisle, who happens to be Jack's lover.

Agatha Blaine: Undercover Passion sees Agatha turning into an unexpectedly tough heroine as she muddies her way into her new career. How she manages to dominate the lusty sister of Count Rufus and turns poor Estella von Friedrich into her eager bitch still has me grinning, I tell you. Jack doesn't want to get his emotions involved during their "training sessions" because he's been burned before when he sent Catherine to that mission from which she never came back and he's still feeling guilty and blue about it.

It's a toss-up to see who wins the prize for being morons here, the good guys or the bad guys since they both have their share of Looney Toons moments here. But I'll give it to the good guys, if only for the fact that Count Rufus is so adorably evil and Jack ends up being a most amusing damsel-in-distress sort for Agatha to come to his rescue a few times in this story. This story is rife with most enjoyable campy and over-the-top moments, somewhat like a good Thea Devine story that doesn't have ridiculous stream-of-consciousness babbling and unlikable main characters. The villains in this story are over-the-top bad, but at the same time they are evil in a magnetic and charming way, which ensures that I will not forget them so easily after the story is over.

All in all, this is a most entertaining story that is sexy, amusing, and campy. There is an exaggerated comic-book feel to the story that really appeals to me. Agatha is an adorable kick-ass heroine while Jack makes a sexy damsel-in-distress, but the villains really make this enjoyable romp most entertaining from start to finish.

Rating: 88

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