My Lord and Spymaster
by Joanna Bourne
It's really quite hard to replicate perfection. Bourne's last book, The Spymaster's Lady, is among the best books I have ever read, and while her latest My Lord and Spymaster is a good book, it falls flat in comparison. And that's the rub. It feels unfair to compare the two, because this is an above average book! I might even consider it a Keeper, but I can't seem to stop comparing the two and therefore it isn't a Keeper. It's a GOOD book...it just isn't as stunning as her last.
Jess Whitby isn't your usual Regency miss. She runs one of the most profitable trading companies in England, created a revolutionary accounting system at 15 years old, has lived all over the world, and was the favored pickpocket and right hand woman of London's most notorious gang leader Lazarus. Oh yeah, and her father is accused of being the infamous French spy "Cinq" - something Jess is determined to prove false.
Sebastian Kennett wants Cinq to hang. Having lost ships and men because of the information Cinq gave to the French, he compiled the information that shows Jess' father as a spy. But once he meets Jess he has to battle with the knowledge that his desire to bring Cinq to justice will destroy the woman he loves.
That sums up the basic plot. There's a lot more going on here than that though. We have spys, pickpockets, thieves, and pirates. It's a rip roaring good ride. The story moves along very quickly and kept me turning pages. We learn more about the enigmatic "Hawk" from previous books, and learn more about the spy world Bourne has created.
As in Spymaster's Lady Bourne does an excellent job creating unique voices for her characters - especially for Jess. But Jess' cant often pulled me out of the story. She tends to speak in run on sentences with a lot of flippant non sequiturs thrown in. On more than one occasion I found myself rereading a passage because I hadn't a clue what she was saying. By the end of the book I wanted Jess to speak more normally because her slang was slowing down my reading.
The chemistry between our hero and heroine was one of the best parts of the novel for me. I wish there had been more sex scenes, but there is so much going on that I can understand why more pages weren't dedicated to that. I really love a strong male with a truly bad side - a ruthless pirate side. Sebastian has that and a dark and troubled past to go with it. Since Jess is no angel I found them well suited.
My only real complaint with this book is that Jess did some really stupid stuff requiring Sebastian to bail her out. This bothered me since I think Jess is too smart to go off half-cocked. I could understand that she was desperate and felt cornered. She also often acknowledged that what she was about to do was stupid. I don't mind this usually, but it begins to grate when our hero has to keep stepping in to "rescue" her.
Bottom Line: A great book as long as you don't compare it to Bourne's last novel - which really you shouldn't! I'm still a huge fan and can't wait for the next one to come out.
“The third book from Joanna Bourne introduces us to a woman with a dark past, the man who arrested her father, the man destined to fall in love with her, and a traitor named Cinq.”
July 2008, 336 pages
After her father is wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, lovely Jess Whitby infiltrates the London underworld for the real traitor - only to end up naked in the bed of a rude merchant captain. Not only is she falling in love with him, but he may be the scoundrel she's looking for.