I’d originally gave this one a pass because my reading list was so long, but when NetGalley specifically recommended it to me, I went ahead and requested it. NetGalley seems to know me so well.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A spymaster buys a thief at an auction, but instead of wanting her viriginity, he wants him to help her break an important political figure out of prison. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
From Bad to Slightly Less Bad
Marianne is in a bad position, having to do everything her cousin wants her to do, as he’s the caretaker of her and her sister since they’re parents died. He’s also a horrible, disgusting person. But Marianne has no choice if she wants to keep her sister out of his hands. So when Nicolas Valette comes and buys both of them in an auction, you’d think Marianne would feel better about the whole thing, right?
Not so much. Because Nicolas, while not abusive, has his own agenda, and Marianne has to play her part in it if she wants to see her sister again. They hide the sister away and Nic takes her to a deserted country home where he trains her on everything she needs to make a prison escape.
Never Give Up
Marianne already has great thieving and balance skills, as well as knife throwing skills, things that got her a position as a performer in a local circus troupe. She’s a cool character with some unique qualities and a definite dose of bad assery. I loved that no matter how hard Nic pushed her while training her and no matter how much pain she was in, she never gave in, determined to come out on top.
All Work & No Play
Nic as a hero works on all sorts of levels. He’s definitely a take charge kind of guy, but in this case, his priority isn’t about protecting the heroine, it’s about a politically driven prison breakout, and he needs Marianne to help him. While this seems like a douche move, Nic is honest from the beginning that his priority is with his role as spy and in getting revenge for the murder of his brother. At the beginning of their story, he truly doesn’t have many feelings for Marianne, other than finding her competent and interesting. And he does push her. Hard. Though there are a few scenes where he seems to be deliberately hurting her and setting her up for failure, it’s not a hard leap to understand that he’s doing it to prepare her for a dangerous mission.
Let’s Talk Politics
I loved the action scenes in this one. Marianne is a knife thrower, and every time she throws one, I felt the intensity of it. There is also a lot of political intrigue in the book. I usually find politics boring, but I didn’t mind it so much in this one, as it was easy to absorb them as part of the story and still focus on the romance.
The Romance Factor
Though the story unfolds over only a week, the romance doesn’t feel forced or too fast. It’s believable that two people thrown into a stressful and dangerous situation would have high emotions that would lead to strong feelings. Marianne gets a strong case of lust to start out with, but at some point, the romance becomes less about attraction and more about mutual respect and admiration, especially on Nic’s part when he realizes just how strong Marianne is. There’s part of the story where they “know” they can’t be together. Even though you expect that the romance will have the HEA, sometimes the emotions are such that you start to wonder. 4/5
The Steam Factor
While there’s a lot of buildup to Marianne and Nicolas getting together, there are surprisingly few sex scenes and the ones that happened were fairly tame. The hottest scene was when Nic was telling Marianne what he wanted to do to her once they weren’t imprisoned Somehow, the verbal hotness got through the context of nasty prison cell. 3/5
I couldn’t put this book down. It was well-written, kept me on the edge of my seat, and was sensual and sweet in a way that didn’t cross into outright erotica, and though I like erotica, I appreciated the lack of it in this book. After all, they’re on a dangerous mission. If they stopped every five minutes to get their groove on, I would have felt cheated. The book also hints at some of the future pairings we’ll get to see in this series, so yeah…I think I’m hooked and on board for the rest of this one.