TITLE: India BlackAUTHOR: Carol K. Carr
INFO: Paperback, Fiction, 296 pages
PUBLISHED: Berkley Publishing, 2011
SOURCE: Received from Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for review
FROM GOODREADS: When Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, Madam India Black is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.
Blackmailed into recovering the missing documents by the British spy known as French, India finds herself dodging Russian agents-and the attraction she starts to feel for the handsome conspirator.
MY TAKE: I have mixed emotions about this book. On one hand I loved the main protagonists of India and French. On the other hand, the plot wasn't quite what I was expecting and it left me a bit unsatisfied. It seemed to come on strong in the beginning and then fade out a bit towards the end of the story.
Characters are the strong driving force of this tale. French is a mysterious government man of few words. But, India herself is a real kick. She is a very sharp-witted woman who is the ultimate business maven. She's all about the bottom line at her brothel (double entendre intended :) The author has written a very likable and quirky character in this madam. Some of the snarky comments and observations that India come up with almost make up for the parts of the story that I felt lacked something. Most of these witticisms were aimed at French -
"Speaking of that derringer, why didn't you tell me you had it stuffed down your underwear? And how in the world did you manage to secrete such an armory on your person without clanking like a medieval knight in armor when you walk?"
"Oh, let him stay French. The lad's been in a whorehouse before, so I don't suppose it will do him any harm to spend time in a politician's office."
*SPOILER straight ahead (You can highlight the text below if you want to read the content containing possible spoilers)
Part of my disappointment with the story is the lack of any real romance between India and French. The book starts out hinting at it and actually building up towards a connection, but it then fizzles out before it's even lit the fuse. I think the author missed out on a great thread that she had started. Of course, that may be addressed in the next book....
The other problem I had was that the supposed "super spy" French did some particularly stupid things. He and India had the missing case in their possession not once, but twice and neither time were smart enough to destroy the damaging documents. They also had the enemies under their control a couple of times and didn't think to search them for weapons or properly secure them. While that would be a bit more understandable for a prostitute-turned-madam, it really didn't fly for the international espionage expert.
*End of Spoiler
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