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Spymasters #2

My Lord and Spymaster

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A daring beauty, she was infamous for taking chances . . .

Raised as a poor but cunning pickpocket, Jess Whitby may have grown into a wealthy young woman, but now she must once again rely on her guile. Her father's been wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, and he's going to be hanged—unless Jess finds the real traitor in the London underworld. She never dreamed her search would begin by waking up naked in a rude captain's bed. Or how little she'd mind.

Now she'll risk everything for love...

When Captain Sebastian Kennett prevents a kidnapping on the London docks, he takes the headstrong would-be victim home. He's infatuated with her courageous spirit. She's enthralled by his commanding strength and the sexy spark in his eyes. Then she discovers something else about the spellbinding seaman: He could be the traitor she's hunting, the man whose next move could determine her father's fate—and her future as well.

324 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2008

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About the author

Joanna Bourne

19 books864 followers
Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat.

She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars. She's fascinated by that time and place - such passionate conviction and burning idealism ... and really sexy clothes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 313 reviews
Profile Image for Bubu.
315 reviews326 followers
February 9, 2018
I started with My Lord and Spymaster some time after New Year’s Day and finally managed to finish it only about five weeks later. Impressive by my standards, as I tend to leave a book be after such a long time. But there was Hawker’s story I’m still dying to read, and there was the promise of The Forbidden Rose which I loved.

Oh boy, am I glad I started with The Forbidden Rose, seeing that The Spymaster’s Lady was enjoyable but nothing to be too excited about.

The first half, no strike that, the first 65-70% of the book I was first confused, then irritated and finally downright annoyed and ready to give in. The book had nearly beaten me with its constant hints and red herrings that weren’t really hints or red herrings. I was more like this:


I don’t need nor do I want info-dumping. On the contrary, I love it when a story slowly unfolds, but for that to happen I need a few markers. All I got in My Lord and Spymaster was a heroine running through the streets (and the rooftops) trying to find proof that her father was not the infamous French spy Cinq, while the hero was…Well, I don’t know what he was. He was lusting after Jess Whitby, that’s for sure. He was also convinced that Jess’s father was indeed Cinq. If there was some sort of romantic development between Jess and Sebastian, I didn’t see it, by the way.

I didn’t know when the story was taking place. The name Lazarus, already mentioned in the two previous books I had read, was dropped here and there in connection with Jess, but Jess also seemed to have spent years in Russia. In what order all this had happened, however, was not disclosed until we finally, finally meet the infamous Lord of London’s underworld, Lazarus. By that time, I was well past the 70% mark. And again – finally, finally – things started to make sense. Finally!

I wouldn’t presume to believe that I have sussed out Ms. Bourne’s conceptualisation of her female characters. But from the three books I have read so far, they are all cunning, deadly, alluring and super-intelligent.

I loved Marguerite.
I liked Annique, though she had me scratching my head.
Jess Whitby, however….

Jess Whitby thy name is idiot.
Seriously, am I to believe that a woman, watched by three-four different parties/agencies, can loose their tails as easily as it was described? Am I to believe in a heroine’s intelligence putting herself in constant danger when she has other resources at hand? And I mean it, at every corner I was told how much she knew of London’s many opportunities to get things done. What does she do? The complete opposite.

Even at the end, when everything is in the open, when Sebastian tells her repeatedly that they needed to talk, she states she can’t as she would only start crying, although it’s so very, very clear that Sebastian would help her in any way possible, and that he has the means to help her, too, I might add. What does she do instead? She ignores him, walks off and puts herself – once again – in mortal danger.

I hate that. I hate, hate, hate it when a heroine is portrayed as some sort of super-heroine and does the most idiotic things. When she is unwilling to listen to reason, unwilling to cooperate, if not for her own sake, then at least for the sake of her loved ones. At this point, I might as well say: Jess Whitby thy name is Too Stupid To Live.

The only saving grace was her talk with Hawker (once again Hawker). There were only glimpses of romantic moments between Jess and Sebastian. None of the slow unfolding of feelings between William and Marguerite, for example.

Well, I’m done now and I’m clapping myself on the shoulder for finishing it. But I can thank Hawker for that. I am glad I started with The Forbidden Rose first as it introduces many of the characters that pop up in the books. Had I started with the date of the publication of the books, I doubt I would have made it to The Forbidden Rose.
Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews408 followers
June 18, 2018

What happened? Eh??? Where the interesting stories of the other books went?

Here we have a huge mess! Shall I start with the heroine, Jess, or with the hero, Sebastian? Mmmmm...

Jess... what a mess! It even rhymes! LOL
She's (supposedly) a genious, everybody is in awe of her intelligence... but I saw only a stupid idiot! She overthinks and does exactly what she said to herself not to do two minutes ago! Arghhhh!!!!

Sebastian... is an overly misterious man everybody fears, but he deosn't know to speak with Jess like a sentient being. He wants to protect her, but doesn't say it, on the contrary: he does everything he can to get the opposite reaction from her!

Also the identity of Cinq, the super-Frech-spy... No, I don't want to talk about him... It was so stupid!

I want to pretend that I've never read this one...
Profile Image for Mfred.
505 reviews16 followers
February 7, 2018
Here's the deal: for all that Joanna Bourne subverts genre conventions with her surprising character choices and action-filled plots, she also embraces some of the worst.

By the time I finished My Lord and Spymaster, I just wanted to throttle Jess Whitby. She is really, really, um, REALLY just almost too stupid too live. Any stupider, and the book would have been a tragedy, not a romance.

Unlike many historical romances, Jess is not a lady, a countess, a duchess, etc. She's not a virginal weeping wallflower, either. The daughter of a merchant, she runs her father's business importing stolen or black market goods with great skill. She invented a bookkeeping system that beats all the boys' versions. She's been to Russian prison. AND, she is a reformed street urchin- the former right-hand-man of London's most notorious kingpin.

So when Capt. Sebastien Kennett (the slightly piraty bastard son of a nobleman) proves that her father is Cinq, a French spy for Napolean responsible for the deaths of many Englishmen, Jess decides to use her considerable intelligence and cunning to prove Kennett is the spy and hang him instead of dear old dad.

And in doing so, makes so many stupid decisions and risks her damn neck so many frickin' times, I kinda wanted her to just die already. Bourne is great at twisting the story's plot until maybe, just maybe, you might agree that Jess's only option is the stupidest possible choice in the universe. The one that requires her to basically die until Sebastien steps in for the grand heroic rescue, at considerable risk to his own life.

You might.

If it wasn't such a stupid fucking choice in the first place.

In fact, the story BEGINs and ENDS with Sebastien rescuing Jess. By the end, I kinda had to question her intelligence and cunning-- and wonder, instead, if her whole extraordinary life was really just the luck not to DIE FROM MAKING SO MANY STUPID CHOICES.

Meditating on this book and Bourne's first, The Spymaster's Lady, it dawned on me that these books are not that subversive or that different. Yes, they are well written. Yes, they are wonderfully romantic. But gawd, do the heroine's get rescued over and over and over. And that is traditional, conventional, and also fairly disappointing.

I want a heroine who doesn't need to be rescued, because she is smart enough and strong enough to stand side-by-side with the hero. Do it, Joanna Bourne. I believe in you.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,413 reviews955 followers
January 17, 2018
2.5 stars

This is a historical romance book that decidedly tried to have more of a plot than a romance, but the plot is kind of boring and the romance isn't that interesting either. Jess is some kind of accounting prodigy/ex-thief/master tradeswoman who is determined to prove her father hasn't committed the treason he is about to be hanged for. She then is almost murdered (who was behind this was never explained) and proceeds to risk her own life needlessly a couple of times, all to discover something that she could have thought of without doing any of that nonsense in the first place. So much for her being this super intelligent independent woman. The romance is just the guy Sebastian falling in love with her beauty and then saving her from her own idiocy. I think I'll pass on reading any more of this series, except for maybe Adrian's book. I did like the first book in this series so there is hope his might still be good despite this book's relative blandness.
May 5, 2022
Loved the first book in this series and looked forward to this one. Enjoyable writing and wonderful history if that is what I was looking for rather than a romance. The story takes place over a week or so and it feels much longer! The mystery was just ok, and I felt the book spent so much time looking for the mastermind and then..... well read the book and you will know what I mean. Great side characters that I actually preferred over the main couple. I do look forward to the next in the series as several of my GR friends have said they are good.
Profile Image for Quinn.
701 reviews61 followers
August 29, 2015
4.5 stars

The Spymaster's Lady is destined to be one of my top reads for 2011, so I was really interested to see if it was a fluke, or whether Joanna Bourne is one of those too rare, extremely talented authors. There's some good news and some bad news in the answer to that question.

The good news is, The Spymaster's Lady wasn't 'beginner's luck'. I loved this one too. The bad news is, there is no backlist for me to glom. How incredibly exciting to have found a new favourite author, and how disappointing that there isn't a mountain of books to look forward to.

Ridiculous title and misleading cover aside, this was an excellent book. I know a lot of readers who loved The Spymaster's Lady were disappointed with his one, but that was absolutely not my experience. Sure, The Spymaster's Lady might have the edge, but this was a great read in its own right.

Once again, the author gifts the reader with a unique, unconventional, interesting, chameleonic heroine, and pairs her with a strong hero who combines raw masculinity, strength and dominance with sensitivity, care and concern. The heroines seem to shine so well in these stories that you can forget the enormous appeal of her heroes. It's a surprisingly pleasant change.

Again, our hero and heroine seem to be at cross purposes where each have their own agenda, adding significant complexity to their basic and fundamental attraction. The author writes this so well. I loved that in this one, Sebastian's agenda wasn't to the mutual exclusion of Jess's. The battle here was not just of political origins, but really about trust.

The attraction between Sebastian and Jess was wonderfully rendered and I loved their banter and the way Sebastian patiently and purposefully pursued her. These are not books with detailed sex scenes, but nor do they need them. I never felt like something was missing.

The author again brings the setting to life - another major talent of hers. I'm not always a visual person, but the images here were vivid and leapt into my imagination without conscious effort on my part, or the need for endless dull description by the author. I love her prose and the way she writes dialogue really enhances the experience. The secondary characters are also fully realised.

My Lord and Spymaster is balanced in action and emotion and is a rich and rewarding read. My one niggling complaint was Adrian's character. I adored him in The Spymaster's Lady and I didn't recognise him here. He was a different and less interesting character in this one. I can't to read The Forbidden Rose.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,126 followers
December 15, 2008
I just have to say that that hand on her back is really creeping me out. Does it not look like some kind of giant sci-fi spider? It seems out-of-proportion big. And why do the women wear the tackiest clothing on these covers? Anyway...

What we have here is a rip-snorting good adventure story, with political plot, fighting in the alleys, treason, smuggling, mystery and a shade of romance. The romance aspect is not the main focal point of the book but more like a side issue, added in for the genre and very "soft". There's only one graphic scene, towards the end, and it's very tasteful. But there is quite a bit of good chemistry and sexual tension - though it seems a bit one-sided, on his part.

Set after the Napoleonic Wars, Jess Whitby's successful merchant (and smuggler) father, Josiah, has been locked up for "questioning" - he's the main suspect for leaked secrets to France that resulted in many British deaths. All the evidence points to him, but Jess knows he's innocent and is determined to find the proof. A very smart girl who runs the Whitby company far more than her father does, she has the allies and the resources and the intellect to figure it out. At the top of her list of possible suspects if Captain Sebastian "Bastard" Kennett, who helped put together the evidence against her father.

Circumstances see them thrown together and Jess finds her attraction to Sebastian getting in the way of her growing conviction that he could be the traitor.

This is a mystery more than a romance, and a rollicking good one at that. The setting and period is wonderfully recreated, with lots of detail and wry humour - the dirty side of London is scrupulously depicted with all its prostitutes and thugs and Secret Service agents laid bare.

Jess is a pretty spiffy heroine: brains, guts and determination set her far above the usual fare. She's canny, resourceful and has a good head for business. My only quibble is that, despite the adjectives used to describe her, she's often the loser in clever banter. I would have thought a woman like her would be able to hold her own better. I did love her ferret, Kedger, though.

Sebastian makes a great hero: the typical attributes are all there: he's tall, dark, strong and ruthless. And sexy. Let's not forget that! He falls for Jess remarkably fast but is quite endearing in it. I mentioned that the attraction seemed a bit one-sided: we get more evidence of Sebastian's interest in Jess than the other way around.

For an historical romance, My Lord and Spymaster is quite original and lots of fun. If you're not big on the romance side of things but you love these kinds of adventure stories, you might enjoy this one. I'm still not sure what the title refers to exactly, though.
Profile Image for Jan.
866 reviews163 followers
August 9, 2022
Original review March 2019: 3.5 stars. It was hard to decide whether to round up or down. Bourne is definitely a quality writer, but this wasn't my fav of this series so far. (This is the 4th one I've read -I'm reading them in chronological order.) I didn't dislike, but I didn't *love* it either.

I think I had three main issues with this book:

There was a little too much descriptive historical detail. The writer has clearly done a ton of admirable research, but I'm not reading to learn about the history of crime and smuggling in nineteenth century London. I want a believable historical backdrop, but really, I just want to be swept away in the romance. Which leads me to my second gripe.

The romance was very late in coming. Yes, there was instant attraction from the start. That's OK. But it was draaaggggeeeedddd out, and apart from some nice kissing, our lovers didn't hook up till very late in the book. It felt as if the writer was deliberately coming up with reasons for them not to get together. It felt a little forced or artificial to me. I was frustrated by this aspect of the book at times.

Third: For me, there was too much of an emphasis on the crime and smuggling element. Yes it was a vital part of the book - the MCs and plot revolved around it. But some scenes just seemed to linger overly long on the nasty characters and their dirty deeds. Looking closely at London's seedy underbelly isn't that interesting for me. Others may love this aspect of the book, but it's not my preferred reading.

Overall, I did enjoy some aspects of the book, and I will definitely read the others in the series. But for me, this one just didn't quite hit the mark.
Profile Image for steph .
1,197 reviews70 followers
February 9, 2022
February 2022: I am pretty sure this is my least favorite of this series because the two leads are so focused on their attraction to each other they don't really bond much in other ways until closer to the end. It's probably 3.5 stars tbh but the writing is great and we get to meet Lazarus for the first time ("Who do you belong to Jess?") so I'm keeping it 4 stars. I could have done without the Fluffy subplot however, that was dumb.

July 2017: Dropped it down a star upon re-read. Took me awhile to get through it, Jess was a bit hard to like this time around. Still enjoyed seeing Doyle and Adrian again.

April 2012: I really liked this. In fact, I'm really enjoying this series as a whole. What I liked so much about this one was how the story slowly unfolded and we got to see the backstory to both Jess and Sebastian and I, of course, loved seeing familiar characters such as Adrian and Doyle again. Eagerly waiting for #3 to be returned. COME ON PEOPLE!
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,892 reviews1,502 followers
November 30, 2017
Okay, I'm ending my misery. I've made it nearly halfway and they're still faffing around trying to find evidence on each other. Which means they aren't concentrating on the bad guy. Or talking to each other, really. And Sebastian is a dead loss I can't take seriously. He's so busy "controlling" his lust that he can't see Jess as an actual person—one who may, just possibly, actually know her own father (who she lives with and works closely with in his business) better than he does. It doesn't help that Bourne hasn't bothered telling the readers what the "evidence" is that he's acting on, nor does it help that it's obvious the real villain is way, way more competent than either of the idiots stumbling over each other in their lust-filled haze.

So yeah. I'm out. I'm really looking forward to Adrian's book. I hope it doesn't suck. I take comfort from knowing that this was one of the earlier-written books. It certainly hasn't lived up to the quality of all of the others in this series.
Profile Image for Karen.
799 reviews1,005 followers
February 23, 2018

When you call on the God of Luck, you have to scrape down and give up everything, or you don't get his attention."

Really enjoyed this one. I would have given it five stars, but the first book was just a little bit better. I felt the need for a distinction between them. Now, on to the next one.
Profile Image for Piper.
302 reviews76 followers
March 20, 2018
“Let me pull your sails into the wind. There’s nothing you have to take charge of.”


Another fabulous story in this series I’m very much enjoying. I love this author’s writing style as well as her characters. Moving on to the 3rd book, Doyle’s story, which I’ve been looking forward to.
Profile Image for Catherine.
523 reviews538 followers
March 9, 2010
I read the first book of this series, The Spymaster's Lady, and really enjoyed it. I don't know why I never bothered to pick up the next book in the series when it came out. I finally decided to get it off my wish list and order it. I really wish I hadn't. Everything that I loved about the author's style in the last book was repeated here, but it really didn't work for me.

What I really liked about the last book was the flow of the language. The heroine was French and her thoughts and dialogue really felt authentic to me. The wordiness didn't bother me because it was all part of the experience of Annique (most of the book was from her pov). That same style was duplicated in this book. What was wonderful and had a great feel for Annique was horribly tedious for Jess.

I thought Jess was going to be really interesting. I mean, with her past she had to have some interesting character motivations. Unfortunately she wasn't anything special. Her actions made no sense to me and even though she was supposed to be some genius mind I honestly couldn't see it. She was a very weak character (even though we're told again and again that she's strong) and caved to whatever pressure was placed on her. It was irritating to read about.

I really didn't like Sebastian's character. He was basically a carbon copy of Grey from The Spymaster's Lady. Grey too was overwhelmingly dominant. He was very much so an "I know best" kind of guy. It worked for him because of his position as spymaster. I didn't mind him overwhelming Annique and controlling her actions because she was the enemy and to act otherwise would be stupid. That does not mean it was ok for Sebastian though. Why exactly is he acting that way? His controlling, egotistical behavior was so irritating.

Now, why exactly did these people fall in love? I really have no idea. One moment they're lusting and hating each other and then the author tells us they're in love. I just disliked the characters and couldn't get into the book.

One thing I do have to admit though... I really want to read Adrian's book. I liked him in the last book and I liked him in this one. I truly hope that he won't be a carbon copy of the other two male leads though.
Profile Image for GigiReads.
391 reviews98 followers
February 13, 2022
Audiobook- loved the narrator but the story didn't grab me like the first two. First off, false advertising alert: this is NOT a pirate romance. They spend like a few hours on a ship and that's it. The heroine was kind of dumb, kept making stupid choices and the hero was unremarkable. I kept spacing out while listening so either I missed when he fell in love or it was insta love. Either way I felt zero connection to them or their relationship. The plot was good and the writing fantastic. This author is brilliant but this one just didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Anna (Bobs Her Hair).
909 reviews193 followers
July 31, 2012
Grade: D...Very disappointing!

The Story - Shipping hieress's father isarrested for treason. She searches for the real spy. Heiress investigates the man who accused her father. They are attracted to one another as bad thing happen.

The Characters - The captain will have the heiress. She is his. Mine! The heiress is physically attracted to the captain. She hasn't felt this way since so-and-so.

The Plot - Boring!

Final Thoughts- There's a reason this book falls through the cracks. This story is unlike Bournes other fabulous stories. :(
Profile Image for Pamela Shropshire.
1,292 reviews57 followers
March 17, 2018
Book 2 of the Spymasters series. Ms. Bourne’s prose is just lovely; it reminds me of Loretta Chase, actually, which is very high praise.

The heroine is Jess Whitney, a very complex young woman. She was a master thief in her childhood, working for the criminal lord, Lazarus. After he father returned to England (he had been imprisoned abroad), he took her from Lazarus and she has traveled the world with him. Her father owns a trading and shipping company; Jess actually runs the business side, while her father does the buying and selling. I really liked - loved- that Jess is smart and successful in a man’s world. But - well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Sebastian Kennett (I adore the name Sebastian) is our hero. He also owns a shipping company, much smaller than Whitby. Sebastian was a bastard (in the classic sense) and grew up in poverty until his mother’s sister found him. I loved his aunt Eunice and her husband, Standish. Standish is a history buff and is constantly filling the house with suits of armour and old pots. Eunice rescues prostitutes. Sebastian’s two cousins also live with him: prim and proper Quentin and sharp-tongued Claudia.

A traitor who goes by Cinq caused the sinking, with all hands, of one of Sebastian’s ships, so Sebastian is determined to uncover him and see him hanged. The evidence all points to Josiah Whitby, who is arrested and held in the house on Meeks Street. Of course, Jess is equally determined to prove her father is innocent.

Now we’ve come to it; the thing that drove me crazy about this book, and not in a good way. One of my biggest pet peeves in romance is the heroine who continues to do stupid things that put her in danger because she won’t ask for or accept help from the hero. Jess got on my last nerve with this! It’s like she was TRYING to get herself killed.

If not for this, I would have given the book 4 stars.
Profile Image for Ashley.
427 reviews30 followers
May 29, 2022
I have to be honest. I came really close to not finishing this book. And, in the end, I wound up speed-reading/skimming the final 20% or so of it. The writing was lovely and evocative, but the story itself was not compelling for me and I never connected to the hero or heroine, both of whom got upstaged by secondary characters like Eunice (the hero's badass aunt), Claudia (the hero's acerbic cousin), and Adrian Hawkhurst (who has had the best set-up of any "story forthcoming" hero I've encountered so far). Seriously, bless Adrian. Hope of seeing him pop up again is what kept me going during this tedious tale.

I found the plot dense and uninteresting, a complete aboutface from the fun and absorbing plot of book 1. Perhaps the worst thing, however, was the lack of chemistry between the leads. Unfortunately, the first book in this series set a high standard. I thought the chemistry between the hero and heroine in that one was off the charts; they were both interesting, competent, and compelling--genuinely whole people all by themselves. Their interaction was made the reading fun. Not the case for the main characters in this story.

Things I liked:
I enjoy how truly convoluted the world in this series is. I feel like there are many layers and easter eggs, small throwaway lines peppered in throughout the stories that are relevant to past and future novels. For me, that sort of thing is fun to parse.

I like Bourne's writing style quite a lot, and I liked that the heroine of this book, particularly in her interactions with Claudia, was constantly wishing she were more witty and cutting. Very often it's the case the heroine is the wittiest one in the room, the only one who is truly capable of expressing and understanding humor and sarcasm. This works in some cases, but let's be real...the vast majority of us are only so-so conversationalists at best. Jess, the heroine, while she had many a TSTL moment, was clever and intelligent but not exactly replete with bon mots. And still, Bourne's skill shined through. She writes fantastic dialogue, and the heroine's straightforwardness, inability to think of quick quips or comprehend sarcasm was written deftly.

Things I did not like:
Unfortunately, the best dialogue did not take place between the hero and heroine. They fall in "love" over the course of about 48 hours, and just about every conversation, at its root, revolves around the hero's raging hard-on for Jess. I swear...there is nary a scene where he's not half-erect while talking to her. Constantly he's telling the heroine that she will crumble under his will to have her under him, and the majority of his thoughts consist of things like:

Not today. Not tonight. But soon, he’d touch her entirely and everywhere.

Oh, brother. Of course the heroine is quivering in her boots, trying and failing not to succumb to his clumsy bravado. I've never seen a more egregious case of insta-love in all my days. And the fact that I was expected to buy into this load of crock pissed me off the more I read! Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift have a more believable love story, kids.

Take a look at this passage, for instance, which comes a little less than two days after the hero first meets the heroine:

He could have cajoled a response out of her, even here, even now, when she was angry at him. That was the weakness in a woman like Jess. She couldn’t take a good grip on hate. Not the way he did. It didn’t burn and broil in her innards like a ball of acid. She couldn’t hold a grudge with a pair of fire tongs.

Really, you fool? You talked to her one night while she was shitfaced, came onto her the next morning, and then cuddled her on a bench for five minutes and you really have the authority to speak on the woman's ability to experience anger and hate? What a weirdo and loser this guy was.

All in all, this book was clearly filler, and probably set-up for the obviously more interesting stories and characters to come. I will simply mark this particular book as a miss and move onto the other ones in the series, which I hear are much better. Goodreads seems to bear out this general consensus, as the next books have much higher ratings than this one. I rated the first book in this series 5 stars, and I still maintain that Bourne is a fabulous writer.
Profile Image for Verity.
278 reviews233 followers
August 23, 2009
Regrettably, I wasn’t as entertained by this 1 as I was w/ TSL. I was bored outta my mind @ many parts of this bland sophomore slump. Perhaps I’ve made a grave error in reading MLAS & the resplendent “The spymaster’s lady” back to back, ‘cuz MLAS pales in comparison by a few shades. There are so many missing KEY elements here that were prevalent in TSL : razor-sharp wit, non-stop gritty actions & adventures, discernible bullet-hawt chemistry, never-ending surprises & vibrant characters. MLAS cover is a marked improvement from TSL, alas, the inside cover art shows an unappealing hero. The premise has potentials but it almost seems like JB lost her muse between TSL & MLAS. W/ the exception of the 1st 2 chapters, NOTHING really interesting happens in the next hundreds of pages. Jess spends the early chapters recuperating, feeling faint & facing eviction, being bullied, snarled @, cut off mid-sentence by the angry, vengeful dude whenever she opens her mouth. Sebastian starts getting snippy w/ Jess from the moment he finds out her real identity from his pal, Adrian, but he also lusts after her delectable body. There’s too much mundane chitchat & over-descriptive décor & furniture. The main thread is ‘bout Jess’s desperate endeavors in proving her father’s innocence & finding the elusive culprit, Cinq. The hero & the plodding pace got a li’l bit better, but it still didn’t grab my attention from cover to cover like TLS did. Another letdown : the lone luv scene happens briefly, 30 pages before the anti-climax. The ending lacks romantic vibes that TSL had, even tho’ both books have no epilogues. This is very uninspiring. TSL was a much superior effort, in terms of quality, H/H’s personalities & romance. I hope her next 1 will live up to JB’s gold standard. This book's not a disaster of epic proportion, but I expected much better than this, after having a taste of what JB's really capable of, in TSL.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for D.G..
1,363 reviews343 followers
September 20, 2015
My Lord and Spymaster is one of those books with an insufferable heroine that gets into lots of very serious trouble because she *thinks* she's Superman and Lex Luthor rolled into one so the poor hero has to run around all over town having to rescue her from all her own scrapes. I wanted to slap her silly.

Jess's father has been accused of treason but she thinks the real traitor is Sebastian Kennett. In her first attempt to "find evidence", he has to defend her from a band of cutthroats. He takes her to his house to "protect her" but instead of staying put, Superwoman Jess comes and goes as she pleases, even though 4 different groups of people are having her tailed. She's such an expert that she can evade people whose job is actually to spy on people. Because she was a burglar at 11, she can still go through roofs in the dark at 21, because women's bodies don't change at all from 11 to 21, specially when they spend the intervening 10 years running a business.

The whole spy plot didn't make any sense whatsoever - the villain was obvious from the beginning. There was one unexpected part but it was unexpected because it didn't make sense. I could understand that the British Service needed Jess' expertise, buy why not ask for her cooperation instead of having her run amok?

I started the book on audio but the heroine got so much on my nerves that I switched to print. I didn't dnf it because I was reading it for a challenge. I really hope the next one is better.
Profile Image for The_Book_Queen.
1,524 reviews241 followers
April 6, 2018
DNF @ 6%

If you want to know the entire scene that made me DNF this book, check out my thread on Twitter: https://twitter.com/The_Book_Queen/st...

To summarize: She's passed out from a head injury and while undressing her, he's fantasizing about her body and fucking her and then he touches her pubic hair. ALL WHILE SHE'S STILL PASSED OUT.

I noped the fuck out of there because there's no coming back from that.

I'm not sure if I'll be back for the rest of the series or not. I'm leaning towards not.
Profile Image for kris.
936 reviews180 followers
August 29, 2016
Jess Whitby needs to prove her father is innocent of treason by proving that Sebastian Kennett is totes guilty. Except there's early onset nudity, followed by lust, following by ~~feelings that get in the way of this noble quest.

1. Jess really wanted to get herself dead, didn't she?

2. Meanwhile Sebastian was busy with his very commanding boner.

3. Overall, I did like this. I was a little wary of the Lazarus plot line--"Who do you belong to, Jess?"--but it resolved itself in a way that wasn't completely cringe-inducing. She gives Sebastian a shilling! SHE BELONGS TO HERSELF!!

Although what the ever loving hell was that "Fluffy" plot???? I was grimacing though all of that.

4. It took me a solid 3 months to pick my way through this. Part of it was the sheer intense talent Bourne has: she packs quite a bit into her prose and I love it. But part of it was the overwhelming hopelessness that seemed to permeate every page. There didn't seem to be any relief from it: the world is a gross, shitty garbage heap and what place does love have in all that? Not to say I didn't believe in and root for Sebastian and Jess, because I did! But the rest of the world was always looming, a storm on the horizon.
Profile Image for Zumbagirl.
154 reviews3 followers
January 29, 2012
After reading The Spymaster's Lady, I was so excited to continue on in the series - but unfortunately this book did not work out well for me. While I liked both the main characters, Jess and Sebastian, their story did not grab me. The beginning was very good, especially the first two chapters, and the very end, after page 250, was good. But there's a whole lot of middle that just dragged on and on. One of my favorites in the previous book, Adrian, was here but just didn't have any real magic in this book. There's a very cute ferret and he may have been the highlight of the story. Even though this is a romance, it's barely that - they have their one scene together - PG rating - and then the book was over 20 pages later.

One other good thing: the mystery/who-done-it was a big surprise. That was pretty cool because I did not see it and I love when that happens. He was a true jerk/villain and I like how he gets his comeuppance.

I will continue to read this series because I still want to get Doyle and Adrian's story. But for fans of this series, IMO, you can skip this book and not miss out on anything integral.
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,806 reviews541 followers
October 21, 2009
The heroine of My Lord and Spymaster is Jess Whitby. Jess may seem like a respectable lady with a fortune and a successful business, but Jess has an unfortunate past as being a former thief who lived in the underbelly of Katherine Lane in London. Her father, who I really thought of as a total jackass, left Jess to fend for herself because he was never around. Without a mother to care for her, Jess had to survive anyway she knew how, so the streets became her home and thus her career as a thief, all before the age of ten. Jess has come back to her old haunts looking for the man responsible for framing her father for crimes against the crown. Because Jess is so independent and a bit plucky, she will go deep into the dark streets, where danger is thick, searching for a way to find the villain who has the power to send her father to the gallows. This is where she meets Sea Captain Sebastian Kennett.

Sebastian and an associate, Adrian, (Adrian was a big secondary character in The Spymaster’s Lady) are walking back from a celebration of sorts when a young woman comes rushing towards Sebastian and begs for his help. He knows something is off because he feels her trying to pick his pockets. Before he can get to the bottom of Miss Sticky Fingers, they are attacked. Sebastian and Adrian are able to hold their attackers off, but Sebastian’s lovely pickpocket is bashed in the head and falls unconscious. Sebastian takes her back to his ship and waits till she comes to. From that moment on Sebastian feels Jess is his. In between the fighting and the time it takes for him to bring her to his ship and wait for her to awaken, Sebastian wants to claim this unknown lady as his own. These few pages where we see Sebastian’s thoughts and sudden feelings for Jess are so telling. It sets in motion the dance or rather the foreplay these two will engage in before they become lovers.

Jess does not trust Sebastian at all. She believes he is someone called the Cinq, and the one responsible for imprisoning her father. Jess may be very attracted to Sebastian, but she really does think he is the dastardly Cinq.

You have to feel for Sebastian because he makes it his mission to protect and help Jess in any way. Jess is an ungrateful wench and makes sure to give Sebastian the run around. He just doesn’t know how to handle her. She is one slippery woman who can escape from his guards who are suppose to keep tabs on her. Jess is quite skillful and she climbs various rooftops and drops into rooms without being noticed. Jess reminded me a bit of Anne Wilder from the Connie Brockway classic, All Through the Night. And I would love to know if Joanna was paying homage to Connie because at certain points, Jess was very much like Anne. Sebastian is not at all like Jack Seward, but he is there to help Jess out of her scrapes. There is one such scrape where Jess decides to go back into the "belly of the beast" and see the man who turned her into a thief and may just kill her because she left him, even though she was just a child. Sebastian is the only one who can rescue her. Surprisingly in this scene, you would think Sebastian would lay claim to Jess himself, much like he told himself he would when he first met her. Rather, Sebastian makes Jess realize she belongs to no one, not her father and not even himself.

I found My Lord and Spymaster to be a tensioned filled novel, especially between Jess and Sebastian. These two do not fall into bed right away and then spend the rest of the story running around London. The loving comes much later. Sebastian can’t stand dear old dad because of what Jess had to go through as a young girl. Jess can hardly trust Sebastian, which became a bit tedious because Sebastian has done everything in his power to make Jess want to put her trust in him. I felt that Jess had such issues because of her past and it should fit, but sometimes too much denial and angst between the two main characters can be a bit too much.

Again Joanna has written another wonderful heroine in that of Jess, who really makes this story shine. Sebastian was a pleasing in his own way, but I was so involved with Jess that Sebastian is more of a sidekick to Jess if anything else. I was even surprised by who Fred…er…the Cinq was. For a sophomore effort, I think those who enjoyed The Spymaster’s Lady will feel the same about My Lord and Spymaster.

Joanna simply breathes life into a genre that needs more stories like her own.
Profile Image for Lee.
Author 180 books3,902 followers
March 18, 2020
don't think Just read everything by Joanna Bourne. NOW
I love how she writes her french character's dialogue (in English). You can almost hear them speaking French. Very clever dialect.
And the plots are amazing.
Profile Image for Ruth.
Author 14 books91 followers
September 30, 2009
This was this year's RWA Rita winner in the Regency Historical category, so I thought I'd take a read, since I wasn't familiar with this author.

A very intense story about a captain and a young woman who grew up in the London East End slums, pickpocketing to survive, but who is now an educated young lady running her father's shipping firm.

Sexual tension galore from the moment hero and heroine meet. They each think the other is guilty of being a master spy, Cinq (pronounced the Franch way, I assume), who is a spy for Napoleon.

Very, very rich in historical detail, especially nautical, as well as of the seamier neighborhoods of regency London. I'm not sure how accurate the cockney was, since a lot of what we know of modern cockney is not necessarily the cockney of the early 19th century (eg. "sod" wasn't used till the late 1800's). Same with some of the neighborhoods (St. John's Wood isn't on early 19th c. maps).

But aside from these niggling details, the story is very rich and intense. I wish there had been more interaction between the hero and heroine, not just where their brains are befuddled by raging sexual awareness, but where they are actually getting to know each other.

Profile Image for chanceofbooks.
214 reviews24 followers
March 28, 2009
I enjoyed book 1 a little more, but this was still a very enjoyable book. I love the unusual heroines she chooses. I was a little disappointed to not see more of the characters from the first book. There's an interesting timeline going on in this series where Adrian is a youngish-man in book 1, much older in book 2, and then in the upcoming book 3 he's a teenager again. I'm hoping that she clarifies the timeline at some point b/c my confusion detracted a little bit from my enjoyment of the book. EDITED: She has a very helpful timeline here: http://jobourne.blogspot.com/2008/11/... Bourne has one of the most distinctive voices in historical romance, and her flair for dialect and slight hint of continental sensibility makes her a treat to read. I highly recommend her for readers who like a historical setting but have tired of how-to-snag-a-title plotlines. I dislike war-with-France plotlines, but I still greatly enjoy this series.
Profile Image for Elaine.
977 reviews38 followers
January 29, 2016
This was not to my liking. The story started great and interesting but it went downhill very quickly (mostly because it was so slow). I skiped a lot of pages and it is a big deal because I never skim no matter how dull a book is. The romance in this book is very skimpy, a little lack luster, it's more of a spy-suspense kind of story (with not a very good mystery case, I figured who the bad guy is the moment they got introduced to the story) with some lusting added to it. Also I don't much care for Joanna Bourne's writing style. It just doesn't sit well with me. And again the secondary characters were more compelling than the hero and heroine combined just like in the first book of the series.

The story had so much potential but it just didn't live up to it. I don't know if I'll continue with this series. Maybe I'll give it just one more try. Maybe I'll have more luck and I'll like the third book. Like they say, third time's a charm. :)
Profile Image for MasterGamgee.
1,359 reviews22 followers
March 30, 2012
Even though this book took me FOREVER to read - a case of pick it up, read a few pages, put it down - because it was so well written, I had that urge to keep reading. Many other books have failed me when I've done this in the past.

I enjoyed the characters, setting, story but at time was a bit confused as to what the greater picture was as far as the 'who is Cinq' question went as this is the first book I've read by this author.

I loved the dialogue, it felt like the characters were right in front of me talking it was so well written. Some of the characters were nasty, others self-centered and yet others terribly sexy. I got all that and could easily picture each individual.

This will not be the last book I read by this author. Looking forward to many more!
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