Another day, another romance novel. I don’t recall how Beauty and the Spy (2006) by Julie Anne Long ended up on my wait list at the library. I think a Cannonballer must have recommended it at some point and then I forgot about it until it became available, but I enjoyed reading it.
It’s amazing how quickly these plots disappear from memory, but a quick trip to Amazon has refreshed my recollection. Susannah Makepiece is beautiful, rich, and about to marry the heir to a viscount. Until her father dies, she loses everything, and she is lucky to end up at her aunt’s cottage in Barnstable. Christopher (Kit) Whitelaw is a viscount and a top spy in London. At the beginning of the novel, he is immersed in little besides women and drinking. Kit’s father sends him off to the country to get his head about him. In addition to the inevitable love story between Susannah and Kit, there is some murder, intrigue, and adventure as Susannah and Kit try to figure out what happened to her father.
I like this book and I was impressed by the characterization. Instead of making Susannah an implausibly gutsy, feminist, caring and perfect young woman, she begins the book by being selfish, manipulative and rather shallow. But she is exactly a product of her upbringing and simply knows nothing else. As she is able to explore her talents and desires in the book, her character grows and she becomes a better, more interesting person. Kit grows as well, although not as dramatically. The book was also easy to read and the romance between the characters grows slowly as they get to know each other, which I appreciated. I also liked the fact that they were rarely opponents, but more often worked together to accomplish their goals.
The one complaint I have is that the extraordinary number of typos (at least in the Kindle version) was distracting and unprofessional. It felt like at least once per page (probably a slight exaggeration), there would be a major mistake such as: incorrect pronouns, doubled words, or incorrect words. Sometimes the paragraphs were out of line. These weren’t tricky or questionable grammar traps, these were basic failure to proofread gaffes that required me to re-read sentences in order to figure out what the author was trying to say.
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