Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-60504-061-4
Historical Romance, 2008
I’m not familiar with this author and To Capture a Spy is the first historical romance of hers that I’ve read, so I can only say at the end of the day that her previous and future books won’t be as hard to read as this one. It’s hard to read, at least that’s the way I find it, because the author has a wooden and clunky narrative style here.
Our story begins in Le Havre, France, in 1814. Meg Wentworth doesn’t know why she was taken prisoner by the creepy French spy known as Le Lézard (how nice of Mr Lizard to choose a French codename that is recognizably “bad guy-ish” even to non-French speaking folks) but she has managed to escape at the opening of this story only to fall into the clutches of our hero Lucien Archer. He assumes that she’s working for Mr Lizard and maybe even his moll. Then she conveniently experiences nightmares of Mr Lizard trying to stick his hands at where they don’t belong in Lucien’s presence so that he will start having doubts about her being Mr Lizard’s moll and accomplice. Meanwhile, Meg decides that she has to stay in France to carry out her personal mission. Whether he likes it or not, she’s determined to help him capture Mr Lizard.
Meg is a pretty kick-ass heroine, and in a way, she’s a nice antidote to the disappointingly weak and inept heroines in some spy romances that I have read recently. Lucien is… well, he’s pretty much what every spy guy in such stories tend to be. But the real issue I have with this story is Ms Violet’s writing style. Scenes unfold at the same pace and sense of urgency to the point that there aren’t enough differences between a quiet scene and a more action-driven scene. As a result, the story doesn’t have much of what I call a “build up”. Even when I come across a scene that is meant to be exciting, the excitement of the scene fails to rub off on me because the author’s prose in that scene is as flat and lacking in urgency as that in a slower scene.
Am I making sense here? Let me try again. Imagine that this book is an audiobook and that the person doing the narration using the same bored voice throughout the entire story. That’s comparable to effect of the author’s prose here on me. The story as a result doesn’t evoke that “I have to read the story entirely in one sitting!” feeling in me. Because this story is meant to be an action-driven historical romance with spies and intrigue, the author’s execution of this story as a result truly leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that this book is bad – it’s just very boring when it shouldn’t be.