Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"The chemistry between Sibella and John is electric..." Great review of Taming a Gentleman Spy plus an excerpt!



Review: Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen

Taming a Gentleman Spy   

by Maggi Andersen

          
Taming a Gentleman Spy
Book 2 The Spies of Mayfair Series
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9084836-4-5
Dimensions: 203 x 133mm
Page Count: 314
Excerpt

Linden Hall Yorkshire, 1818

“I trust we’ll bag a few birds on the moor tomorrow, Chaloner.” John Haldane, the 4th Earl of Strathairn, glanced at the guests enjoying the Hunt Ball in his ballroom. Bright chatter rose in the warm smoky air as decorative ladies mingled with the more soberly dressed gentlemen. “My chef plans a grouse dish flavored with juniper berries for our dinner.”

“Excellent.” The Marquess of Brandreth raised his glass. “We will be out at the crack of dawn, I daresay.” He took Strathairn’s arm and drew him into a quiet corner. “I don’t wish to strain a friendship I value, John, but I must offer a word of advice.”

“Oh?” Strathairn eyed him warily. He had liked Chaloner better before his father died. The man seemed to lose his sense of humor after inheriting the title.

“You are often seen in Sibella’s company. Don’t get too fond of her.”

Strathairn moved his shoulders in a shrug of anger. He glanced over at Sibella in her white muslin, talking earnestly to Mrs. Bickerstaff. “Your sister is intelligent and good company. I enjoy our conversations. Nothing strange about that.”

“I struggle to believe it is just that. I may not be privy to the details of the work you perform for the military, but rumors do float about the House of Lords. You must admit that due to those circumstances, alone, you would not make her a good husband.”

Chaloner’s determination put him in mind of a robin with a worm. Useless to argue. With a sigh, Strathairn acknowledged that he only strove to protect his sister from possible hurt. “No need for concern,” he said. “I have no wish to marry your sister, or anyone else for that matter. I do intend to ask Lady Sibella to dance, though. Unless you think my waltzing with her will ruin her reputation.”

Chaloner huffed out a laugh and rubbed the back of his neck. “Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t enjoy having to say this to you, John, but it befalls me as head of the family. Sib has a love of home and hearth. She looks for a husband who will sit by the fire with her at night. That isn’t you, is it?”

“She deserves the best, and no, it isn’t me, Chaloner.”

After a fruitful day in the fields shooting grouse, Strathairn and his guests made their way over the lawns to the Hall.

The gamekeeper, beaters and handlers departed for the stables with the hounds while servants came to take the birds to the kitchen.

On the terrace, Lady Sibella, in a gown the color of lilacs, sat playing cards and drinking tea with the other women in the late afternoon sun.

Strathairn mounted the steps, carrying his shotgun over his shoulder, intent on returning it to the gunroom. “I trust you ladies enjoyed your day?”

“We did, my lord.” Lady Sibella’s sister, Viscountess Bathe, smiled. “Or at least those of us who have not lost our pin money at whist.”

“I see you had a successful day, my lord.” Lady Sibella eyed his gun with a faint shudder.           

“I saw your kill on its way to the kitchens.”

He smiled. “I hope you’ll enjoy our efforts once served in a tasty sauce.”

“I expect I shall. It’s contrary of me, isn’t it?” Lady Sibella frowned up at him. “But please don’t suggest that all women are so.”

He eyed the expectant faces of the other ladies and held up his hands with a laugh. “I wouldn’t be so bold.”

“Perhaps you would like a cup of tea, Lord Strathairn.” Lady Sibella gestured to the teapot a servant was refilling with hot water. “You must be thirsty after your arduous day.”
She well knew how much he hated tea, for he’d been forced to drink it at a morning call at their house in Eaton Place. She had naughtily offered to pour it into a potted plant when her mother was distracted by another guest.

Her playful smile was delicious, and he couldn't help grinning back. Aware of the sharp-eyes on him from around the table, he shook his head. “I’m afraid I must decline for I’m not fit for company. But, thank you.” He bowed and entered the house leaving them to resume their card game.

Strathairn cleaned his gun and left it on the rack in the gunroom. He’d enjoyed Lady Sibella’s friendship like no other lady of his acquaintance. Her humor seemed so in tune with his and he often found she understood his thoughts before he expressed them. Damn Chaloner, he was such a stickler for convention.

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My thoughts

Maggi Andersen gives her readers a wonderfully charming Regency romance in her latest novel, Taming a Gentleman Spy, the latest addition to the Mayfair Spy series.  Maggi Anderson is a master of portraying the complicated emotions of the Regency era and the societal confines on women.  In love and life, Regency women must be innovative in order to circumvent the male domination of their lives and live the life they want and the love they deserve. 

Taming a Gentleman Spy's Sibella is one such woman, swearing off marriage for independence but still bound by family and societal responsibilities.  There is one man though who has captured her heart; John, Earl of Straithairn.  John, a longtime family friend of Sibella's, is our Gentleman Spy, but Sibella does not find him an eager suitor.  John has returned from war shunning the desire for a family after experiencing the devastation and loss of war. 

There is no doubt that the chemistry between Sibella and John is electric and no doubt he completely returns her feelings, but he denies his them and does his best to dissuade her interest in him.  So then, how is a gentile Regency woman go about getting the man she wants?  Sibella struggles to make a marriage of love and not for duty.  She is feisty and intelligent, but will this be enough?

Maggi Andersen is masterly skillful in describing emotion and in so doing takes her reader on a journey of love and life.  Taming a Gentleman Spy is wonderfully integrated in the history of the Regency period, full of rich and complex characters, romance and a touch of intrigue combine to create a wonderfully engaging page turner leaving me wondering where is my gentleman spy anyway?

About the Author

Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the countryside outside Sydney with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums fruit, ducks swim in the stream at the bottom of the garden, and the neighbours chickens roam their yard providing wonderful eggs. 

She began writing adventure stories at age eight. Three children, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree later, her novels are still filled with adventure and suspense, but are also passionate romances. Georgette Heyer among others, brought inspiration to her seductive Regencies and she also writes darker, Victorian novels, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult.  She supports the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals) and animals often feature in her books.

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