AUTHOR: Elizabeth Ellen Carter
INFO: eBook, Fiction, 336 pages
PUBLISHED: Etopia Press, 2015
SOURCE: Received from Publisher for Review
FROM GOODREADS: Revolution in France, rebels in England, and one woman caught in the crossfire...
For her unwitting participaiton in a plot to embezzle the Exchequer, Lady Abigail Houghall has spent the last two years exiled to the city of Bath. A card sharp, sometime mistress, and target of scandalous gossip by the London Beau Monde, Lady Abigail plots to escape her gilded cage as well as the prudish society that condemns her. But the times are not easy. France is in chaos. The king has been executed, and whispers of a similar revolution are stirring in England. And because of her participation in the robbery plot, the Spymaster of England is blackmailing her into passing him information about the members of London's upper crust.
When the dashing English spy, Daniel Ridgeway takes a seat at her card table and threatens to expose her for cheating, she has no choice but to do as he demands: seduce the leader of the revolutionaries and learn what she can about their plot. As she's drawn deeper into Daniel's dangerous world, from the seedy backstreets of London to the claustrophobic catacombs of a war-torn Paris, she realizes an even more dangerous fact. She's falling in love with her seductive partner. And the stakes of this game might just be too high, even for her.
Daniel picked his moment carefully. He watched Sir Percy’s wife leave with another group soon after the announcement was made. And although he made no especial effort to hide, he nonetheless remained in the shadows. He pulled out a cigar and lit it on a nearby taper.
As soon as he heard the footman call for Sir Percy’s carriage, he stepped forward into the carriage and waited for Blakeney to join him.
“Send me to France, Percy,” he said as soon as the carriage jolted into motion.
“I’m not going to do that,” Blakeney replied.
“You can’t just leave Jonathan there!”
“He signed on knowing the same risks as you.”
“He has a wife and children!”
“And you seem inordinately fond of them,” Sir Percy snapped back. “You saw the list you gave me tonight. A dozen good men and women dead because of the Jacobins. I’m not prepared to risk more. Not until we know what we’re up against.”
“It could be too late!”
“You took an oath when you joined the League, Ridgeway. One to command, all to obey. Bear that in mind.”
Daniel leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees and exhaled long and sharp.
He felt Percy slap him on the back.
“Just wait a week until we know the lay of the land. I haven’t studied the documents you gave me and Parliament hasn’t even prepared a response to the National Committee’s declaration of war.”
“A week is a long time, Percy,” Daniel warned.
“So is eternity, dear chap. Don’t lose your head. As you well know, those Frenchies have a devilish way of parting you from it.”
MY TAKE: I wasn't too sure how I was going to feel about this book. The author did such a thorough job of making us absolutely despise Abigail in the first book Moonstone Obsession, that I didn't see how she could redeem her in my eyes. I'm glad I took a chance and read this story. Ms. Carter not only managed to make me "overlook" Abigail's previous behavior, she made me truly like her and cheer for her.
This book, while being a second in the series it is a stand alone read. The first part of the tale really gives us the backstory and builds the relationship between Abigail and the lovely Daniel. We get a front row seat to their romance and watch as it grows along with the stakes of the dangerous path they are on.
The pace and the adventure really picks up as we get into the second part of the book. I think this is where I especially started rooting for Abigail. She really shows us what she is made of as the tension escalates along with what is at stake for both of them.
It is obvious just how extensive a researcher the author is. Her attention to the most minute details really pays off as I felt like I was right there with them and could see everything they were seeing. The fact that I enjoy reading stories set in this particular time period makes it an even more enjoyable read for me.
The Seductive Appeal of Spies
by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
The name is Bond... James Bond.
And with that introduction, the hearts of women are all aflutter while the men look on with envy and admiration.
What is it about spies which is so seductive?
I think there are a number of different reasons:
It’s glamorous – (or at least they are in our books, TV shows and films!) Travelling to exotic locations; a seemingly limitless expense account; glamorous soirees; the incredibly fast cars. Those bad guys never seem to rough it in seedy back alleys.
It’s romantic – in these glamorous locales, there is always a beautiful seductress who may or may not be in league with the enemy.
It’s action packed – I’m sure real spies will tell you that 99% of their day is spent in boring paper work, transcribing audio and a whole lot of waiting around. In the world of fiction, no one has time for that, so as a reader or a viewer, we get to the good bits straight away – the gunfights, the chases and super-duper gadgets.
It’s equal opportunity – we’ve had a joke about James Bond, but in the real world and throughout history both men and women have worked as spies and many have become household names – Caleb and Joshua, the two Israelite spies in Canaan and later on Rahab; Mata Hari; Casanova; Sidney Reilly whose exploits were told in the 1983 mini-series Reilly Ace of Spies; in Australia Nancy Wake (code name white mouse) fought the Nazis in France (her life was told in an eponymous 1987 mini-series).
It’s risky – Out of all of the possible reasons why spies are seductive, I think it is this one which has the emotional resonance for both men and women. In today’s modern Western world, life is comfortable, safe and, dare we say it? Boring.
Spies live in a shadow world. Much of what they do is clandestine and even those who are their nearest and dearest may not be aware of what it is they do. At least part of their lives are forced to be lived in secret and, from our perspective as outsiders, secrets are intriguing.
Spies also live in a moral shadow also. This may be one of the few times when the end justifies the means. Spies ‘break the rules’, their role requires them to lie, cheat, steal and occasionally kill.
Under just about any other circumstances, those actions would make you the bad guy, but done for a higher purpose – liberty, justice, freedom – under the sanction of a higher moral authority, provides a validation for those actions.
Spies need the courage of those convictions because their very lives are on the line. The least worst outcome is the bad guys get to wreak havoc. In the worst case scenario the spy will be caught and lose their lives – sometimes by means that aren’t very pleasant.
How many of us today believe in something so absolutely that we are ready to put our lives on the line to defend it?
The heroine of Moonstone Conspiracy, Lady Abigail Houghall is a reluctant spy. Like many throughout history she was ‘turned’ by another. In her case, it was Sir Percy Blakeney, England’s spymaster who saw the potential in the scheming, lying, fearless woman whose notorious past made her an ideal agent.
Naturally, she had to have a hero worthy of her and that had to come in the form of another spy, the Honourable Daniel Ridgeway who is appointed to be her handler. I had a lot of fun bringing a different side of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror to the fore with Moonstone Conspiracy and I hope you enjoy it too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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