- Mass Market Paperback: 377 pages
- Publisher: Warner Forever (Mar. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446616869
- ISBN-13: 978-0446616867
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 444,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Beauty and the Spy (Warner Forever) Mass Market Paperback – Mar 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is the first in a series of stories about the three young daughters of Richard Lockwood, a respected Member of Parliament (and spy!), and Anna Holt, his mistress. When Richard is murdered while trying to expose a government traitor, Anna is framed for the crime and must flee the country. She leaves her three little girls (Susannah, Sylvie and Sabrina) in the care of Richard's friend, James Makepeace. Seventeen years later, Susannah Makepeace, is a lovely, pampered young lady, having been raised by James, a wealthy importer (and spy!), as his own child. When James himself is mysteriously murdered, Susannah's well-ordered existence is shattered when it is discovered that James was deeply in debt. Penniless and jilted by her handsome, titled fiance, Susannah accepts an offer to go live in the country with James's relation, Aunt Frances.
Almost immediately upon arrival in the country, Susannah stumbles over the hero of the story, Kit Whitelaw, a viscount (and former spy!) and heir to the local earldom. Kit has been forced to rusticate by his father who has become concerned by his son's increasingly wild behavior while in London. Kit has been assigned by his father the task of creating a folio of the local flora and fauna, and as Susannah happens to be a talented artist, he engages her help for the illustrations. It soon becomes apparent that someone is trying to kill the unsuspecting Susannah, and Kit is forced to solve the mystery of her birth and expose the traitor who killed Richard Lockwood in order to protect her.
Kit and Susannah are both very engaging characters--attractive but charmingly imperfect. Susannah is unabashedly materialistic and a bit spoiled, but she has a restless, slightly reckless heart that is a perfect match for Kit's own. Kit has the requisite history of an unhappy love affair in his youth that led him to harden his heart to all women, but amazingly he never seems like a cliche. The story is very well-written and moves along well with only minimal dragging in the second half. There are still too many plot coincidences for my taste, that is only a minor quibble. The villain (and villainess!) are pleasantly nuanced for evil-doers in a historical romance.
In summary, "Beauty and the Spy" is a well-written historical romance with a very engaging hero and heroine. Julie Anne Long's prose is a pleasure to read and refreshingly free of the usual romance cliches. The next book in the series ("Ways to Be Wicked") is the story of Susannah's wilder sister, Sylvie, who has been raised by a French opera dancer. The preview at the end of BATS looked delightfully original and I look forward to that story as well.
The ton's little darling, Susannah Makepeace had an indulgent father; a fiancé who was heir to a Marquis; and quick as a wink it was all gone... Penniless she found herself stuck in the sleepy little town of Barnstable. Sketchpad in hand she came upon a sight she'd never see in town - a man bathing naked in a pond, which she most certainly had to record - in every delicious minute detail. When Kit caught her in the act and confiscated her sketches, he realized that perhaps his stay in the country wasn't going to be so dull after all - especially when numerous accidents seemed to indicate a bit of foul play in the air and directed towards the ever beguiling Miss Susannah.
Julie Anne Long first came to my attention with her debut novel THE RUNAWAY DUKE which I, and many others, found to be full of wit, passion, and romance. A great start for a budding romance author. Now with BEAUTY AND THE SPY, the first installment of her brand new trilogy; THIS is an effort I predict will catapult her to the top! It is a profoundly passionate and brilliant piece of work that will entice you from the prologue to the very end. It was totally intriguing and unusual as one might expect a rakish spy to be doing his best to bed the virginal miss, but what Long did was give her characters true substance. Extremely well-developed they took their time to really `know' and `care' for one another with intelligence, wit, and compassion. Definitely `keeper' material! I can't wait for the rest of this saga to unfold!
Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Org.
"Beauty and the Spy". The developing relationship between Susannah Makepeace and our hero, Kit (very dashing in a nice way) was engaging. You could see the relationship move along in a logical fashion; there was nothing forced or unrealistic in its development. I enjoyed her Aunt Perriman, Kit's Dad and especially the story background on who Susannah was. All of it was tied in nicely. Too bad about Kit's friend, John, who I am guessing will appear in another story. I look forward to the next sister's story. One of the issues I did have with the story was that it was actually a bit too long. There was not that many lose ends to tie up that needed it to be quite so long. Also her father, James Makepeace, it was strange how he was so in debt and no one knew, not only the government(he was a spy and spy's must be on the up and up or they could be in danger of selling secrets for money) but especially her fiance's family. Douglas, said fiance, was the heir to a Marquess, and as his mother made him break off the engagemnet when Susannah became penniless, would not his family have discussed settlement's with James? Since he was so in debt, there would have been nothing to use as a dowry, and the marriage would never have taken place anyway.
It was interesting to see Susannah, who was not only beautiful and rich, go from a life luxury, to her Aunt's simple cottage and having to make her own fire.
It was refreshing to see our heroine, Susannah, not be so missish about her attraction to Kit and her enjoyment of his maleness. It would have made for an entertaining ending to the story with Susannah and Kit appearing at a Ton ball to see the reaction of Douglas and his new wife, Susannah's former best friend, to her marriage of the year.