Anna's Reviews > My Lord and Spymaster

My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
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Feb 16, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: romance
Read in July, 2008

Fear the power of this book's awesomeness. It will kick you in the head with its greatness, and you will be grateful it did.

Jess is exactly the kind of heroine I like best. She's strong-willed with a sense of humour, clever and resourceful. While other heroines sit and smile prettily at the men who describe them as feisty, Jess is busy climbing on roofs and defying authority figures. She never counts on having someone rescue her, instead relying on her own wits to come up with a solution to her problems. She's a colourful character with a chameleon-like ability to fit in with both high and low class society, thanks to her unique background. Both the street urchin she once was and the wealthy member of the gentry she's become are evident in her speech and thoughts, making Jess a terrifically fun character to read about.

I think I may have a fictional character crush on Sebastian. He's strong without being flashy, protective without growing overbearing. He thinks Jess is pretty, but it's her inner strength, her courage and wit that really draw him to her. Every bit as clever as Jess, but with a better understanding of people and how they work, Sebastian is the perfect counterpoint to Jess's antics. He's also not the dashing rogue I expected when I cracked the book open; Sebastian has morals and standards, some of which he may be willing to bend for a good enough reason but he won't break them. As someone who's tired of the "bad boy" always getting the girl (I have no patience for them in real life, and not much more in fiction), this was a welcome change for me.

What shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's read this far into the review is that I looooved the interaction between Jess and Sebastian. I just could not get enough of it. Nearly every conversation is a power struggle, and with the two of them fairly evenly matched, it's just too much fun to witness. They tease, they argue, they push each others' buttons, and I found myself going back to favourite passages just to re-read a particular conversation between the two of them.

The secondary characters are just as well-drawn as Jess and Sebastian, in particular Sebastian's aunt Eunice, whose doors are always open to young women in unfortunate circumstances, and Adrian, Sebastian's friend and a spy of many secrets. I also fell madly in love with Kedger, Jess's larcenous pet ferret who seems to hate everyone except her, but has a particular avarice for Sebastian.

My plot summary above? Does not do justice. There are twists and turns galore, and anyone who is into spy novels or mysteries will find this a fully satisfying read, regardless of whether or not they're fond of romance novels. By the end of the story, I only had the mystery half solved, which makes me ridiculously happy. I always love it when an author can keep a surprise for me at the end of the story, because it so rarely happens.

Something else worth mentioning is Bourne's prose. It's beautiful, with a touch of poetry. The woman knows how to turn a phrase, and not a word is wasted. If more romance novels were written like this, people would stop thinking of them as trashy.

So yes, I think it's fair to say I loved My Lord and Spymaster and highly recommend it to anyone who likes spies or mysteries or romance. Or ferrets. Or, y'know, just anyone who can read. If you'll excuse me, now, I have to go accost some random strangers and force them to read this book.
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