Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: May 26, 2015
Jane, Lady Stanwell, is finally out of mourning and is looking for a lover, but it is not an easy feat. Her husband's suicide has tainted Jane, and has given her a reputation among the lords and ladies of the Ton. Men would be wise to stay clear of her, whose husband chose to end his life over a horse than to continue living with his wife. She's only looking for pleasure, with no commitments -- and she's narrowed her list down to one man, Simon Marbury.
Barrister by day, spy by night, Gareth Ramsey has been tasked to shadow Simon Marbury over suspicions that his family's foundry is manufacturing faulty cannons, which has resulted in countless injuries and death among British soldiers -- but the assignment develops an unfortunate complication when Gareth meets Jane, and discovers that he wants to be the one she chooses as her lover.
"Don't you feel it?"
"The attraction. Don't tell me you didn't enjoy our kiss last night."
A tingling began in the pit of her stomach. She shook her head in denial. "I did not."
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I liked Gareth, and the author really nailed the alpha male type perfectly. I enjoyed reading how assertive and take-charge he is. I love how confident and brazen he is, but he doesn't just barrel into any situation without considering matters. I thought he handled the mortifying situation of discovering Jane's list (with the names of potential lovers) with tact and sensitivity. I thought he made an interesting riddle: how is a barrister like a spy? Both are concerned with justice and the law, and both have a tendency to blur the lines of right and wrong -- where the end justifies to means. It's already a difficult "double life" for Gareth -- and now he has to deal with another dilemma: does the need of the one (Jane) outweigh the need of the many (his investigation into the faulty cannons)?
I thought Jane had bitten off more than she could chew with her decision to find a lover -- she chose Simon Marbury, believing that he is a dandy and nothing more -- but quickly realises that there's more to Simon than she could manage. She makes the same misjudgement with Gareth -- seeing only what's on the surface and not delving deeper. But, what's great about Jane, is that she is a fast learner -- and she doesn't allow herself to get trapped into an unwanted situation. She handled Simon's advances very well and was also very clear in what she wanted in her liaison with Gareth.
The story progresses in 2 prongs: the development of the love story, and Gareth's spy mission -- and Tina Gabrielle does a very good job of seamlessly moving these 2 stories together. I haven't read the first book in the series, but Robert Ware, the hero of the first book appears in Gareth's story. I liked the juxtaposition between Robert, Gareth and Daniel, a fellow spy -- Robert is newly-married and his decisions and actions are informed by his new situation. Gareth is slowly forming an attachment with Jane, and one could see how this is affecting his work -- both in a good and bad way. Daniel doesn't seem to be in any lasting relationship, and his words and actions are very telling: the work comes first. Nothing is more important than the work. I love how the author showed how one event could elicit very different reactions from people in different situations: from the one with nothing to lose, the one with something to lose, and the one with everything to lose. (Read Chapter 11)
That being said, I thought At the Spy's Pleasure read very well as a stand-alone. I will be reading Robert's book soon, though, because I'm very curious.
At the Spy's Pleasure is the second book in The Crown's Secret Service series and will be released on May 26. To find out more about Tina Gabrielle and her books, click below:
Disclosure: I received this ARC from Entangled Publishing. Thank you to Entangled and Tina Gabrielle for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.