Dec 9 2014 2:15pm

Intrigue and Romance Blend in Alyssa Alexander’s In Bed with a Spy

In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa AlexanderIn Alyssa Alexander's In Bed with a Spy, the second book in Alexander's Spy in the Ton series, both of the protagonists are fighting in the Napoleonic Wars—the heroine, interestingly, wields a sword in battle whereas the hero is a spy, code name Angel.

At first, Angel, aka Alastair Whitmore, Marquess of Angelstone, feels happy when he spots the lovely Lilias Fairchild in the ballroom, remembering her from Waterloo, a warrior woman seeking to avenge the death of her soldier husband by taking the field herself. Now, two years later, Lilias also recognizes Alastair, though their eyes met only briefly on the battlefield. The two manage to escape the unwanted attentions of hopeful suitors and debutantes to go outside to the balcony, enjoying each other’s company, flirting and using a double entendre that amuses them both.

However, when Lilias leaves, Angel discovers a coin on the ground, realizing it remained after the spilled contents of Lilias’s purse had been picked up. To his shock, Angel recognizes a medallion with the symbol of the Death Adders, a group of assassins. As a spy, Angel has a direct interest in bringing the Death Adders to justice, but the desire goes deeper for him, as his former lover and fellow spy was murdered by one of them. Intent on discovering Lilias’s involvement with the organization, Angel devises a plan to find out.

When Lilias is finally alone that evening, after fending off a marriage proposal from her husband’s cousin, whose home she has been living in, along with her mother-in-law, Lilias realizes she does not have her most prized possession—the medallion given to her by her husband as he lay dying on the battlefield.

At the next soiree, Angel gets Lilias alone, they share a blistering kiss, he shows her the medallion, and after she tries to get it from him, Angel packs Lilias off to his place to interrogate her. It quickly becomes clear to Angel that though her husband, Jeremy, may have been an Adder, Lilias knows nothing of it. Angel’s boss, Sir Charles, arrives and asks Lilias to please try to remember little things that may have seemed unimportant at the time. Lilias agrees, but leaves believing that Jeremy was assassinated.

Back at Fairchild House, Lilias goes to the attic and searches the trunk with Jeremy’s belongings that she brought back home from the war, never having gone through it before. What she discovers leads to more questions, resulting in increased involvement with Angelstone—of both a professional and personal nature.

Both Lilias and Angel have suffered the loss of their partner, which creates a bond, and both also understand how war changes a person. The night they are first formally introduced, Lilias and Angel have the following exchange:

“The loss of your husband is still painful.” Angelstone’s words were quiet. Over them she heard the click of his boots as he stepped closer.

“Yes. And no.” She sighed, letting the clean night air fill her lungs. It was difficult to explain the horrible grip of grief, the slow acceptance, and the ultimate need to survive. “It’s been two years. Two interminable, never-ending years. Yet it seems to have gone in a blink of an eye.”

“Grieving takes time.” Knowledge resonated in the low tones of his voice.

“Have you lost someone close to you?” Curious, she turned to lean on the balustrade so she faced him.

He paused. “My brothers.”

There was more. She’d heard it in the empty silence before he’d answered, but didn’t pursue it. “I’m sorry.”

“I had two older brothers, both with wives and one with a daughter. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to inherit the title. It was assumed that between my brothers and their future progeny that the title would be secure.”

“So you were free to go off to war.”

“Precisely.” Self-deprecating amusement sent his lips twitching. “I thought to make a name for myself in India, fighting in the jungle and bringing back trunks of gold.”

“Ah.” She understood the hard shock of reality. “Youth.”

“Youth, indeed.” He laughed, and the sound rumbled through her.

“War is not the adventure it seems, is it?”

“No.” The word was quiet and full of meaning. “But you know that, don’t you, Mrs. Fairchild? You followed the drum. You marched with Wellington.”

“Yes.” No more needed to be said.

She searched Lord Angelstone’s shadowed face. Something there held her breathless. Her skin prickled, a small current of energy running from her head to her toes.

“Life must still be lived,” she said softly. “Despite the memories.”

“Are you ready to live again?” His voice threaded through darkness and surrounded her, warmed her.

“Yes.” It was a truthful answer, and one she doubted she could have given in the light of day. But the dark felt oddly safe. “Are you?”

Two protagonists who share these similar experiences and are not young innocents proves a winning recipe in this tale.

Alexander's In Bed With a Spy perfectly balances the two aspects of the story, the romance and the mystery, setting the book apart from those in the genre focusing primarily on the romantic angle. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will find much to admire here.

Learn more about or order a copy of In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa Alexander, available now:

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A reviewer and editor at Bitten by Books since 2008, Carol also serves as the Director of the Urban Fantasy track at Dragon Con, and in 2013 co-authored The Jane Yellowrock World Companion with Faith Hunter. When not reading, reviewing, or working at conventions, Carol spends as much time as possible with her three amazing grandsons.

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Kim Haynes
2. kahintenn
Your review reminded me that I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I've just bought the ebook for this second book. Thanks!
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