Review: The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline HunterThe Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter
Published by Jove, Penguin on September 24, 2013
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley

From the beloved New York Times bestselling Madeline Hunter comes this riveting historical romance, in which a darkly handsome nobleman is determined to unmask a delicate and mysterious young beauty...

A refugee from the war in France, Marielle Lyon has established herself at the fringes of London society. Claiming to be the niece of an executed aristocrat, Marielle welcomes the gossip that she is a spy. The more eyes she has watching her, the better protected she is—and the better chance she has of saving her father’s life.

A warrior at heart, Alban Norwood, Viscount Kendale, would still be in uniform if not for his older brother’s untimely death. After all he’s seen, Kendale doesn’t trust the French—or their femmes fatales. He has set up a surveillance network to ferret out undercover agents, and he believes he’s found one in the delicate, mysterious Marielle.

Ready to pounce on his tempting prey, Kendale arranges a meeting with Marielle, who is more beautiful and more cunning than he anticipated. But the Viscount is ready to do whatever it takes to unmask her—even if it means playing a game of seduction…

Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter

Marielle Lyon is a Frenchwoman who has moved to England and carries out many suspect activities. She has meetings in dark alleys with smugglers, she goes where she pleases without a chaperone, she uses her feminine wiles to get her way. All these actions are suspect to Viscount Kendale, Gavin* Norwood, a man who’s been watching her for a while and who absolutely believes she’s a French spy.

Marielle does have secrets, many of them in fact, but she isn’t about to let Kendale figure them out, even if he does save her life. Their little game is coming to an end, though, as the stakes have just been raised.

I thought the plot of this book was intriguing and interesting, but I didn’t like the hero or the writing very much. The hero was very arrogant and holier-than-thou, which I know was to foil Marielle, but it served to make him unlikable (for me). Marielle had so many great qualities and even though the Home Office believed she was a spy, they never were able to prove it.

Kendale distrusts the French, Marielle especially for several reasons. He thinks she’s a spy, he doesn’t believe she is who she says she is, and she does nothing to dispel the rumors. If anything, she revels in them. Marielle claims to be the daughter of a French aristocrat, but she doesn’t live like one. Her dresses are decades out of date, worn, and she has little money. Everything about her is suspect.

She is working at making and selling political etchings to save her father back in France, and it turns out Kendale and she have a common enemy. But it takes Kendale a good portion of the book to trust her, and Marielle does nothing to make him trust her. She continues her lies and tales and constantly keeps him on his toes, which should have made for a fun romance,  but I found it annoying that she never tried to help herself in that respect.

This book has the makings of a great plot, but I found it slow, and a bit of a let down.

*My copy has the hero’s name listed as Gavin, but the goodreads blurb calls him Alban

***ARC courtesy of Avon Books and Avon Addicts

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