This is the second book in the popular Gentleman Spy Mysteries — read this as a standalone or look for the first book, The Innkeeper's Daughter!
Sir Henry, secret agent to the crown, must marry a lady above reproach to afford his illegitimate daughter entrance into society. After narrowly escaping marriage to a highborn bigot, he takes an assignment in Brighton, leading him to an abandoned abbey full of dark whispers, and a sinister secret society, the very one Henry has been investigating for three years.
Isabella is as beautiful as she is talented, but falling in love isn't part of her plans. She only wants to paint, forget her painful past, and keep her overbearing mother at bay. But gaining one's independence isn't easy for a woman in 1823, so Isabella embarks on a fake courtship with Sir Henry. Soon, love and a painting career no longer seem so utterly incompatible.
But when the man Isabella fears most kidnaps her, all appears lost. Realizing the kidnapper is part of the same organization he is investigating, Henry chases after them. Entrapped in a web of secrets, both Henry and Isabella must face old enemies, and fight for their happily ever after.
The third book in the The Gentleman Spy Mysteries, The Memory of Her, is coming in April 2022.
Regency Romance with perfect amount of Espionage and Suspense!
It’s been a while since I read a regency romance, but I really loved this one!
It was the second in the series but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on too much by starting with this one. I assume there was some background on the main characters that would’ve been helpful but I thought Schwarz did a great job building their personalities and elaborating on past events when needed. I also really enjoyed the “cast” feature at the beginning! That was such a fun touch.
Most of the plot centered around Sir Henry researching a secret society formed by men with deviant sexual tastes as well as Henry trying to find a wife in London society. It seemed he had formed a loving bond with Eliza from the last book, but since I hadn’t read that I wasn’t sure how much I would’ve been hoping for them to stay a couple. Nevertheless, Isabella, the new love interest was fabulous. A painter who was sexually assaulted by her brothers best friend, resigned herself to becoming a unmarried spinster. I appreciated how Schwarz dealt with the sexual assault and felt Isabella’s feelings were accurately depicted throughout the book. I loved Henry’s patience and compassion as on over her love and trust.
The secret society played an equally intriguing part in the plot. I love mysteries and thrillers so enjoyed the suspense that was offered. The book wrapped up nicely, but still left room for the third to continue. I look forward to reading the next one!