My rating: 3.5 of 5 flames
This was a good book, it hit the ground running, but I think that parts of this were really hard to swallow.
We have England’s finest, and highest paid mercenary, Emma Astyn (year is 1297)and yet she never behaves like a spy. Not once. I get that from Patrik’s point of view she was a helpless young woman, but even from Emma’s point of view, she doesn’t think/act like a spy. With the exception of her competency with a knife, she had no spy skills whatsoever.
Emma is England’s finest mercenary and she is hired to infiltrate Patrik’s rebel group and find out everything she can, but the biggie, her number 1 priority is to steal a message that holds rebel info and their next move. This writ is on its way to a certain bishop who is a key player in the rebellion. He will then give it to William Wallace. So Emma pretends to be Cristina, Scottish lass who is about to be raped by 4 English knights. Who comes to her rescue (as planned by Emma/Cristina)? Patrik of course. What bothers me about this plan, is that she is told by he’s a blackguard, has a dark heat, is an evil barbarian, yet she’s willing to bank on him saving her, a random damsel in distress? That logic doesn’t follow.
Once she and Patrik are together, he stirs things in her she has never felt before. They bond, they laugh, they love, and then Cristina/Emma betrays him. I’m a sucker for the big betrayal plot line because I love seeing them make up. I loved the scene where Cristina/Emma had to prove herself loyal, and no one believed her (why should they? she’s lied to everyone and is an English spy). She proves herself, though, and I loved how she handled Patrik’s brothers. There were hints of the mystical too, which was pretty cool to see.
This has the makings of an excellent novel, but it just didn’t quite deliver. I think that once Emma and Patrik realize they have feelings for each other, the fact that she was still thinking about stealing the writ was soo wrong. I mean, she’s telling us she now realizes she was hired by the bad guys, and that Patrik and the rebels are just trying to live their lives and find a bit of peace, and yet she’s still willing to give this information to her employer? Total fail.
It really is a good storyline, and I don’t mind suspending belief for the female spy in the 13th century, but the author really needed to deliver on that end, especially since the heroine wasn’t blackmailed into doing the dirty work, or she wasn’t a noblewoman who was new at it. This was an orphan from the streets, a woman who chose this profession. She was England’s finest spy. Other than that, I’d say that their romance was believable, and the brothers and their wives (from the previous books in the series) were great to see, and the action scenes felt accurate. The ending was abrupt, but I really thought the leading action was good. As you can see I did rate it 3.5 flames, so I did like the book, I just had a hard time believing the heroine was a spy.
**ARC provided by Kensington