Joanna Bourne's "The Spymaster's Lady" was a fantastic book, a fresh tale in a crowded genre with brilliant dialogue and plot. I eagerly awaited the next book by this author, "My Lord and Spymaster", but was unfortunately rather disappointed.
Jess Whitby is a pickpocket turned wealthy young woman whose father's shipping empire is well respected. However her father has been arrested for treason as the British authorities believe that he is a traitor known as Cinq who has been selling secrets to Napoleon. Jess is trying to prove his innocence by showing that someone else is guilty and she believes that Captain Sebastian Kennett is actually Cinq. When she is rescued from some thugs by Kennett she finds herself beginning to question whether he really is Cinq. He believes in her father's guilt but is helpless to prevent her from undertaking dangerous assignments to try to discover proof her father is innocent. As Kennett tries to keep up with Jess and as various nefarious characters try to silence her, Jess has to come to terms with her feelings for Sebastian and the possibility that the traitor is indeed one of the people close to her.
There was plenty of action in this story and the setting, in the murky underbelly of Regency London, was good. The dialogue in this book, however, regularly slipped into Americanisms which wasn't something I'd noticed in her previous novel and that was grating in this story. Jess was also a rather difficult character to get to know or even to like, although Kennett was cast in the usual heroic mould. The identity of Cinq wasn't a surprise to me when it was unveiled and I felt there were some rather annoying loose threads (what happened to Colonel Reams and why did he have such a minor part to play when he was discussed so frequently). The fact that Jess could avoid dozens of different spies trying to catch her seemed a little unrealistic at times but I suppose it was necessary to the plot.
In summary, taken on its own this is a reasonable book and deserving four stars. However, compared to her previous book it's a real disappointment - and it's not going on the keeper shelf for me.