Formats available: ebook
Genre: historical romance
Series: Agents of the Crown #1
Length: 266 pages
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance
The intrepid daughter of an earl leaves Regency London for the Parisian court of Louis XVIII, where she finds adventure, mystery, and above all, love.
Hugh Redgrave, marquess of Ormond, was warned. Prinny had dubbed Lady Mary Campbell “the Swan,” but no ordinary man could clip her wings. She was a bluestocking hellion, an ill-advised match by every account. Luckily, he sought no bride. His work lay on the continent, where he’d become legend by stealing war secrets from Boney. And yet, his memories of Lady Mary riding her stallion were a thorn in his mind. He was the son of a duke and in the service of the Prince Regent…and he would not be whole until he had won her hand.
It was unheard of for a Regency debutante to postpone her first season, yet Lady Mary had done just that. Far more interested in politics than a husband, she had no time for foolishness or frippery. Already she had assisted her statesman uncle in Paris, and she swore to return to the court of Louis XVIII no matter the danger. Like her black stallion, Midnight, she would always run free. Only the truest heart would race beside her.
Regan Walker’s Racing With the Wind is not your typical Regency romance. But then, Lady Mary Campbell is not your typical Regency romance heroine, either. Not from the minute she comes galloping into the story, and Hugh Redgrave’s life, riding astride her stallion Midnight.
And that pretty much defines Mary. She rides in men’s clothing, she doesn’t ride sidesaddle, and she’s riding a stallion. And just about from the first minute he meets her, Hugh Redgrave, Marquess of Ormond, spends most of his time in Mary’s company trying, and generally failing, to suppress his desire to either tame Mary Campbell, or simply suppress his desire to have her ride him like that stallion.
Besides the obvious, there’s another reason that Hugh keeps trying to tame Mary, or at least rein her in a little. She keeps getting herself into trouble.
Not little trouble, not minor peccadilloes. This is not your standard Regency. There are no drawing room scandals. Mary’s uncle is one of the English envoys to France in the years just after Waterloo. Mary has traveled with him on his business with the French government, and she has been very helpful on his mission. While the French, (and the Prussians, and the Austrians) don’t think she’s paying attention, Mary makes a very good spy.
The Prince Regent thinks she’s wonderful. Hugh Redgrave thinks she’s dangerous. And he should know. He really IS a spy. During the war the French knew him as “The Nighthawk”. Now that the war is over, he still does occasional “work” for Prinny. Hugh is having a difficult time settling down to his noble duties now that the excitement of the war is over.
Attempting to keep Mary out of trouble in Paris provides all the excitement that Hugh could possibly need. And more. Mary’s investigations uncover a French double agent and an Austrian plot to restore Napoleon (again). Her life is threatened more than once.
To save Mary, her uncle entrusts her to Hugh, sending them on a cross-country journey by horseback through the French countryside, alone and unchaperoned. He hopes they will finally see what everyone else already knows, that they are perfect for one another.
Running from safe-house to safe-house with the hounds of three countries on their heels forces Hugh and Mary to confront the simmering sexual tension that has driven them to distraction every time they have crossed paths. But just when they think everything is resolved, there is one last obstacle to overcome
Escape Rating B: This story took a long time to get itself set up, nearly half the book. Once all the pieces were finally in place on the chess board, the action was fast and furious, and I couldn’t put it down, but the first half needed a bit of tightening. Some of these preliminaries were necessary to set the historic backdrop, and this is book one of a trilogy, but still…
The concept of this story, two spies who fall for each other, reminded me of Shana Galen’s Lord and Lady Spy, although this is the “before” version, since Hugh and Mary know what they are before they marry. It also reminded me of the historic parts of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series. The Napoleonic War period and its aftermath seems to be fertile ground for spy-type love stories.
One part of the story I very much enjoyed was that Hugh and Mary compromised on what would and wouldn’t be acceptable for both of them. They had not led conventional lives, and would not be content doing so. They each recognized that was part of what they needed in the other one, and that changing too much would destroy their relationship. She did not become a simpering twit, and he did not become a boring idiot.
I do want to read the next book in the series. This period is always fascinating!