Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: TAINTED ANGEL by Anne Cleeland

Double and triple talk, threats and counter threats, plots and counterplots. Games of cat-and-mouse, crosses and double-crosses, lies, lies and more lies. Nothing is as it seems in Tainted Angel by Anne Cleeland, a complex tale of spy and counterspy in Regency England.

Vidia is no stranger to the double-dealing, underhandedness and betrayal of the espionage world. As a so-called angel, her job is to use her considerable beauty and charm to ferret out secrets from powerful men. But now, someone has fingered her as a possible traitor, and her own organization is out to trap her. She also harbors secrets of her own that she doesn’t want her employers to discover.

Lucien, also a spy, has been Vidia’s partner on occasion and has always been stunned by her beauty. Recently widowed, he can now pursue her. Or can he? He has secrets, too, ones that can tear him apart.

Tainted Angel is that welcome rarity, a Regency adventure story. Ms. Cleeland’s page-turner grips you from the start and yanks you along at breakneck speed into a maze of dizzying twists and turns where nothing and no one are what they seem. The surprises keep coming right to the end as the author reveals bit by tantalizing bit the secrets everyone in this novel protect.

I love adventure and spy stories, but most of them focus on the man, who does all the heroics, with the woman as an afterthought. Not here. Vidia is smart, sharp, beholden to no one and fights back. She takes care of herself, and is a match for anyone. I like her very much. I would love to see more heroines like her.

I also like Lucien. He operates under as deep a load of secrets as Vidia, but manages to navigate through them as he does his job and also helps her. A true hero. And he’s blond. I do like my blond heroes.

I stayed up well into the night reading this book. You will, too.

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks

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