Book Review: My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
- Author: Marisa
- Published: Jul 4th, 2008
Reviewed by PJ Ausdenmore
With the publication of My Lord and Spymaster, Joanna Bourne has once again proven her mettle as a master storyteller. Infused with an intricately complex mystery and littered with intriguing characters and smart, snappy dialogue, this is a book I found hard to put down.
Successful ship owner, Josiah Whitby has been arrested by the British Service and accused of selling government secrets to Napoleon. His daughter, Jess is convinced of his innocence and determined to save her father from the hangman’s noose by flushing out the real traitor, the notorious Cinq, but in order to do that she must return to the streets of her childhood, the dangerous streets of pickpockets and thieves. She sets a trap for sea captain, Sebastian Kennett, the man she believes is the real traitor but her plans misfire when thugs attack and Jess is injured. She awakens aboard a Kennett ship, brains scrambled, naked and at the mercy of her enemy, the very man who provided the evidence that led to her father’s arrest and is determined to see him hang for his crimes.
Bourne has a talent for creating strong, intelligent, and daring heroines and pitting them against arrogant and opinionated alpha males. Jess and Sebastian are perfect examples. As a child, Jess sold herself into service to Lazarus, the cruel and heartless kingpin of London’s underworld, in order to keep from starving. As a respectable young woman, she is now the brains behind her father’s shipping business though the thrill of living on the edge has never completely left her soul. She’s smart, clever, street-wise and bravely forges on in her mission to exonerate her father, challenging Sebastian at every turn and generally driving him to distraction. She’s relentless, even risking her own life by plunging back into that dangerous world where she is no longer welcome when all other avenues have been exhausted. Sebastian is a bastard by birth, tossed aside by his father to spend his childhood scavenging along the Thames for food and sleeping on cold, dirty streets. Rescued by his aunt, he now moves easily among the nobility but life has made him a hard man who lives in a world of black and white and is supremely confident that his way is the right way. He’s fascinated by Jess and has every intention of installing her in his bed even though he doesn’t trust her, adamantly believes in her father’s guilt and knows she will hate him after her father is hanged.
Several characters from The Spymaster’s Lady appear in this book. Colonel Reams is up to his old tricks and still makes my skin crawl. Adrian, now head of the British Service, is older and even more compelling and Bourne doles out a few more tidbits about his secretive past. I’m still hoping he’ll have his own book one of these days. Colorful secondary characters and plenty of plot twists held my interest throughout, but the fascinating and multi-faceted Jess is the star of this show and it was she who kept me up late into the night turning the pages of another keeper from Joanna Bourne.