Mills & Boon, £5.99, ISBN 978-0-263-26879-9
Historical Romance, 2018
The Uncompromising Lord Flint in question is one of those noblemen who make up England’s super duper spy department. Peter Flint’s latest gig is escorting the beautiful but treacherous Lady Jessamine Fane, the French spy whose mother absconded with her to that country, where the mother then shacked up with a French nobleman that has since become one of Napoleon’s best BFFs. Jess isn’t just to be brought to England for a trial – she is also to be visibly paraded as a bait to draw out her fellow conspirators.
Isn’t this exciting? Just imagine, we have a spy hero and a spy heroine matching wits and cunning and… oh wait. Of course Jess is a victim. She was forced to write all those missives by her evil mother’s more evil lover, and she didn’t even know that an evil man would make her write evil letters. Now that she knows, she is wallowing in guilt while being led around by the hero even as she insists that she’s actually a feisty independent fellow. In other words, our heroine isn’t a heroine as much as she is a checklist with all the items on it ticked, ticked, ticked – the perfect generic victim heroine designed to appeal to readers who doesn’t care whether Jess’s very behavior, motivations, and everything make sense, so long as she fits into the mold of the kind of “morally acceptable” time that is worthy of getting it good from the hero.
As for Peter, he doesn’t trust women because his mother and his sisters keep siccing potential wife sorts on him, and that’s so mean and shady. Plus, his father almost died once because of a woman, so yucks to all women. Therefore, even when it’s previous obvious that Jess can’t even scheme and plot her way out of a chamber pot, he’s all ooh, she’s so sexy and hot, and he’d like a taste of that, but yucks to all women.
The pairing of a guilt-ridden dingbat whose feisty nature translates to her pulling off hare-brained stunts with a dingbat whose mistrust and chauvinism make him blind to the obvious leads to a circular tale of bickering and chasing after one another, with tedious lusting to serve as intermission. And then I get a really bizarre turn in which the hero shacks the heroine up at his place – don’t ask me why – for his mother to step in and point out the obvious to him, that Jess is a victim and not the sneaky Mata Hari that he imagines her to be. Shame, really, as I think the story would be so much better if Jess had been a Mata Hari sort.
Oh, and the conflicts rely on Jess’s past all coming to catch him, and there is a nice scene in which she finally loses it and lays it hard on Peter that it is his stubbornness and stupidity that made her life a lot more dangerous and unbearable. Hence, this is the story of a hero being a peak dumbass, only to be forgiven in the end because he’s the hero and hence, he’s going to get his happy ending even if he’s a moron. Not that the heroine is any smarter, actually – they both deserve one another in all the wrong ways.
Anyway, that’s The Uncompromising Lord Flint. The whole thing feels contrived, as if the two main characters conspired to be big dummies from the very beginning just so that the story would have no shortage of drama. Why can’t it be a fun story about two smart, sexy spies trying to outwit another?