Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Longer a Gentleman by Mary Jo Putney

Cassie Fox is a woman with no home and no name of her own. She lost her family during the Reign of Terror in France and has devoted her life to the downfall of Napoleon's regime.

She's working as a spy for the British and her latest mission requires her to rescue Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, who has been missing in action for the past ten years and is presumed dead.

Grey Sommers never dreamed he'd see sunlight again or feel another person's touch. He has survived ten years of solitary confinement and has managed to keep his sanity -- barely.

Grey is drawn to Cassie. Initially, he believes it is only her proximity and his desperation that is fueling the attraction but, as they slowly make their way to the coast of France and to freedom, he discovers a woman who is capable and courageous -- a woman whose love and esteem he could never be worthy of.

Cassie Fox is an amazing heroine. She's definitely one of my favorites for this year (the other one would be Courtney Milan's Serena Barton). She's a very good spy and has used her "plain-ness" in her covert work. Being half-French, she often finds herself in France, gathering information for the British.

But Cassie is far from plain, in fact, she's extraordinary. What I loved about her is that Cassie never incites pity -- even as she recounts the tragedy of her life, it is not pity that one feels for her -- it is admiration. She is very matter-of-fact about the life she has chosen to live.

Grey Sommers has never had to work hard for anything in his life -- everything just comes easily to him and he thought it would be the same when he agreed to do a bit of spy work for Kirkland's agency.

Except it wasn't that easy -- and he got caught.

For the first time in his life, Grey needed to work hard towards a goal -- even in solitary confinement, he sought to maintain his physical and mental fitness. The years in captivity have sobered Grey and he longs for a chance to live a better life.

I think Putney really understands her characters and is able to present, very clearly, the sense of hopelessness and melancholy that both Cassie and Grey feel. It is very easy for readers to empathize with these two characters, who have experienced far too much but have emerged from their experience changed for good.

There is a binariness to our hero and heroine -- strong and not strong; weak and not weak; hopeless but not irreversibly so -- they're damaged but not shattered. But the one singular, luminous thing about them is that they love each other.

"I want to be special to you, Cassandra," he said starkly. "At the beginning I didn't care if you lay with me from pity or duty, but now I do care. I ... I want to be more than just another assignment."
- p. 189

There is no coyness or hesitation in Grey and Cassie -- these two people understand the mutability of life so they approach it with deliberateness and urgency.

I read this book in one sitting and loved it.

This is the fourth book in Mary Jo Putney's Lost Lords series. To find out more about the series and the author, visit her website.



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