I’m going to try to be fair to this book and author. This is my third (fourth if you count a DNF) Connie Brockway book, and I just don’t think she’s for me. But maybe she is for you! Even after not particularly enjoying the others I read I picked this one up on sale because it made NPR’s Summer of Love list last year.
Anne Wilder is a respectable widow by day and at night she steals from members of the ton, as a thief called the Wrexhall Wraith. Jack Seward is a master spy who has been given the duty of first capture, and then later kill, the Wraith. Jack has an encounter with the Wraith and becomes sexually infatuated (I guess this is what you would call it?) with her. In the meantime Jack is introduced socially to Anne and finds himself quickly falling in love with her. Jack’s mission is to figure out the mystery of the Wraith and recover a missing letter, while Anne goes on leading her double life.
I like Regency spy stories when there is actual spying done in them. Joanna Bourne is the best at this. This book is so-so on actual spy work. I stayed up very late and plowed through the first 40% of the book in one night. What happens at the 40% mark? *Spoiler Alert*: This is when Jack finds out that Anne and the thief are the same person. Everything ground to a halt, and didn’t pick up again until the last 10% of the book. So, it was 50% great, and 50% “oh god! do I really have to keep plowing through this?!”
Why do I believe Brockway is not an author for me? I just do not find her themes appealing. The 50% of the book that took me forever to read was all ANGST. There are people who love this in their novels. I am not one of them. The characters were suddenly “I don’t trust you! You lied! I can’t trust myself!” Back and forth, over and over. They went from nuanced to drama queens and it bored me.
Another popular theme: CHILDHOOD TRAUMA. In both this one and another I read a character experienced such childhood trauma that I could barely stand to read about it. Yes, they have overcome horrible odds. But couldn’t they have been an interesting character without horror being visited upon them as children? Jack’s background was just too much for me. Anne’s emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-husband was actually very interesting and I haven’t ever seen abuse like that used in a romance before. Every girl/woman who liked Twilight should take a look at this one for a reality check. Anne ends up being her own savior here, and I always like when a heroine can take care of herself.