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The Spymaster's Lady

(Spymasters #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  7,296 ratings  ·  924 reviews
She's braved battlefields, stolen dispatches, played roles from worldly to naive, lady to boy. But Annique Villiers, elusive spy Fox Cub, is thrown in prison with British spymaster Robert Grey, ordered to enter France and bring her back. Their uneasy alliance holds, but passion builds as they flee. ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published January 2nd 2008 by Berkley Sensation Penguin Random House
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  7,296 ratings  ·  924 reviews

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Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My guess at how the publisher’s office works, based on the cover of this book:

Publisher: So what’s this book about?
Assistant: Hell if I know. Or care.
Publisher: Ok. Put an ambiguous guy on the front. That should "cover" our bases.
Assistant: Good one, boss. I’ll make sure to make him look like a tool.

OR maybe something like this:

Assistant: Spymaster’s Lady, huh? That’s a pretty intriguing title.
Publisher: Yea. It’s too sophisticated. The cover has to balance that.
A: Ok. I’ll use an effeminate mal
Why can't I select ZERO stars? Why, Goodreads? Tell me why!

WTF is the matter with this author?! We have an amazing heroine, in most respects. Paired with a hero that is fucking unforgivable. After saving their lives, he betrays her, treats her like a whore, and virtually threatens her with sexual assault on a constant basis.

Then, heroine helps them again. I don't know why. Personally, I would have left the bastards to fucking die. I would have been rubbing two sticks together to try and light th
Oct 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Spymaster's Lady was a little like reading a historical Ludlum novel plus romance. I'm usually leery of the spy theme in historical romance because it's typically a plot device and a novelty; it's never lent much thought.

It's clear, however, that Joanna Bourne not only lent the subject thought, she created two characters entrenched in that world. Grey and Annique are two of the best. They're assets to their nations, Britain and France, respectively, but they've never met before-- until a pi
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This book....has the worst cover ever. Thank god for Kindle. As for the actual STORY...

I really enjoyed the first part of this book, like REALLY did, and then after a while, the heroine became...dumb. And I wanted to kill her. She is so awesome in the beginning, why WHY lose it half-way through the book!??! She goes from badass to imcompetent and not smart about things! WHY??!?!?! WHY MUST YOU BECOME DEPENDENT ON THE MAN HALFWAY THROUGH!?

It was a fun read nonetheless, I read it voraciously, but
"Spying is a life of boring, ordinary tasks, performed while death scratches at the window."

So perfect that it might be the last romance I ever read.

I've had this on my To Be Read list for as long as I've been on Goodreads, which means a long time, and while I've always meant to get around to reading it I never had. Until now, at a time when I'd given up ever finding another romance I wanted to really read let alone enjoy. So, a couple of months after being on the library waitlist I finally
Oh, man...the stockholm syndrome is strong with this one. The romance is just so...ridiculous to me. I found Annique's POVs and dialogue extremely annoying to read.

Grey. Annique saves his and Adrian's life...and he turns around and pays her back by taking her captive and dressing her in indecent clothing. She saves Adrian's life by pulling out a bullet that would've surely killed him...and they turn around by drugging her for days and only rouse her when they need her to get past a checkpoint. S
Jacob Proffitt
This is a power-differential romance (which is a thing I just made up) and that brings in some uncomfortableness that can be hard to get past. By which I mean that Grey has Annique in his power and relatively helpless for much of the story. She is literally his prisoner to start and functionally so all the way to the end. Which makes the falling-in-love part a harder sell and I'm not sure Bourne pulled that off.

But I had problems even beyond that through much of the novel as well. I had a partic
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018, 3-stars, hr
3.5 stars

Warning: Possible spoilers ahead

Though I'll try my best not to spoiler the plot. But to explain my issues, I'll have to explain them and that may lead to a few spoilers.

I couldn't resist, so I went ahead and read the next one chronologically in Joanna Bourne's Spymasters series.

Everything I said about the The Forbidden Rose is true for The Spymaster's Lady. The unique and distinctive voice the author gives her characters, and (something I didn't mention in my review for the previous boo
Joanna Bourne has a wonderfully elegant style of writing that reminds me a bit of Laura Kinsale. With an adventurous plot, a crafty heroine, a sexy, domineering hero, and sexual tension that crackles, THE SPYMASTER'S LADY is simply gorgeous. ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sherwood Smith
I recognize that some romance readers don't mind a lot of historical errors in favor of a romance that a modern person can enjoy. If I get in the mindset, especially if there's humor (like in Courtney Milan's books) I can enjoy the story and blink past Hollywoodish backdrop and language.

But in this one the hero was such an abusive dickweasel, and not very competent. Finally I couldn't believe in the story line when the h/h are supposedly in danger but all they can think about is lusting after on
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Another wonderful historical spy/action/love story!

The heroine is a young woman who never had a normal childhood, but was enmployed as a runner first and spy later since a very early age!

She's at the same tough and vulnerable. She's highly intelligent, but her youth make her reach some rather questionable solutions to some very difficult situations.

I usually don't like heroines that are either young or who take such a high risks, but here I just loved Annique.

The way she faces life is the prod
Sam (AMNReader)
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's clear the currently reading shelf in my world. This was like a 3.75

That...sounded bad. It's just that I mostly listened to the audio which was addicting for this book but I am terribly slow at.

There's some aspects that just didn't work crazily well for me. We knew Annique so well, but I felt less of a sense of Robert, even though frankly, I was pretty hot for him. I felt like certain plot points were so well developed and others weren't.

I was a little disappointed in how neat the ending b
4.5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this story, which was excellently narrated by Kirsten Potter. I’m not really a fan when American narrators are used to narrate stories which are set at least partly in Britain and in which the majority of the characters are British, by Ms Potter did a superb job on the characterisations and accents, although she opted to read in her native accent.

I’m also not normally someone who seeks out spy plots in historical romances. I don
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it

3.5 I liked it but didn't love it stars.

This was a nice enough read, though I didn't end up loving it as I thought I might. For me the beginning was a bit slow but things picked up at the 50% mark. Interesting characters. Grey and Annique were well matched and I did enjoy Doyle and Adrian as well.

Not sure if I will read on in the series but you never know. :)
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read. I'm reading the series in chronological order, so this was my second book. I read the first one (The Forbidden Rose) just a few days ago, so pretty much jumped into number two straight away. And I've really liked both of them!

I'm really getting into this 'spy-HR' trope that has never appealed to me before. But perhaps that's because I hadn't read any that were written with Joanna Bourne's level of skill. She is a fine writer.

Set during the mad days of Napoleon Bonaparte's m
I have never been so grateful for the OCD that requires me to read series in order. This book is an absolute gem that I otherwise may never have read. It’s certainly not the kind of book I would normally pick up, and were it not for new_user’s review of The Forbidden Rose (the third book in this series), I highly doubt that I would ever have bothered with this one, and what a loss that would have been. I loved it!

Spies are not really my thing, especially in fiction. I pretty much never read main
Truly still one of my very favorite romances, and I'm surprised I never wrote a review of it when I first read it years ago.

I remember beginning this book the first time with some trepidation over a plot device I usually detest, which is the capture narrative of a heroine. Annique Villiers is a French spy extraordinaire and the motley crew of English spies roaming France during Napoleon's reign are itching to get their hands on her for interrogation. Master spy Robert Grey is especially eager t
Jennifer Ashley
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've been asked to shelve 5 of my favorite romances for Goodreads Romance Week Feb 9-13. Here's my first one: Joanna Bourne's Spymaster's Lady. Joanna's characters are always well-rounded and many layered--this novel has an unusual heroine, Annique, who has grown up with spycraft in the Napoleonic War era. She's going through ordeals I won't spoil, but she does so with great courage and resourcefulness. One of the best historical-spy romances out there. Highly recommended. ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Please note that this review contains more spoilers than what I usually include in my posts.

I heard so many good things about this book, and, from a minority, so many bad things, that I was curious to know what the fuss was all about.

First of all I have to thank one of my readers for sending it to me and I am sorry that didn't read it sooner. I felt I owed you a review but between work, internet problems and other books It took me some time to get to it.

One of things that really defines a book
4 1/2 stars

Although it took me over a month to finish this one (my fault, not the author's), I did enjoy the story overall.

Annique Villiers is the Fox Cub - one of France's most cunning and evasive spies. Grey is the Head of Section for British intelligence. When the two meet up, they are enemies who are undeniably attracted to one another - and prisoners of the same French agent. Annique has suffered a major accident that has left her blind, but that doesn't stop her from helping Grey and his
Erika ♥OwlwaysReading♥
Eye Spy...

... A seriously fabulous book!

"Spying is a life of boring, ordinary tasks, performed while death scratches at the window."

I downloaded the sample to "The Spymaster's Lady" and three pages later, immediately bought the book. I became hooked/obsessed from page 1. I have honestly never read an HR like it. I love how the romance is something that developed alongside the espionage. This is a much more intense HR read. It's not all about balls, coming out parties, courting, operas, gowns, et
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like historical romances but are frustrated by lack of plot or wilting heroines
Update 5/8/13: After three reads, I still maintain that the first half of this book is pretty much the best HR ever written. But then in the second half I get sad and wish for a return of the first half, which is why I just can't bump this up to more than 4 stars. Still overall awesome though, and high on the list of my favorite romances of all time.

Original review 8/10: Don't be fooled by the hilariously awful cover and marginally sexist title (since the lady is herself a spy in her own right)-
Reread: July 2017

I realized that I still haven't finished this series so I'm planning to do it before the new book comes out. I reread The Forbidden Rose before this one and basically swooned every time William Doyle appeared on the page. Still want to marry Grey and have his babies tho.

First read: Nov 2015

OKAY so I read this one early this year and I loved it

and I rated it 3????? why @ past!Lisa, why did you ????

after finishing this, I decided that this deserved a solid 4 just because THE CHA
The first book in The Spymaster's Lady series. I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked it and will read more by this author but I can't help mentioning that something was off in this story. These people are supposed to be spies and yet they seemed juvenile and childish at times. I wasn't convinced of the romance in the story either. It happened too quickly and I just didn't feel it. Still, it was a little different fare from the normal Regency era stories. ...more
Radd Reader
I'm going to skip any commentary on the plot and just get right to......
My Thoughts About This Book:

- I thought it started out great. Two spy's at the top of their game playing spy games and each holding their own and going toe to toe. Woot! 👍Exciting

- I like spy novels so all the intrigue in the beginning was engaging for me. I liked the way it was written where I felt included in the H/h thoughts and schemes. I don’t really know how to explain what I mean but an example would be the follow
Merry Jewelhound
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: napoleonic, series, spy
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is not your usual spy novel. I plan to read the series.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys romance on audio

The first time I listened to a romance novel on audio, the very upper-crust sounding British man narrating made the sex scenes so ludicrous that I feared I would never be able to listen to any romance "warmer" than Jane Austen. (It was When He Was Wicked, and amazingly to me, some consider it an outstanding audiobook.) The only good thing about the experience was it sparked a hilarious riff from my husband about the impossibility of listening to British people having sex -- with their accents!

Nov 13, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars

Ugh this sucked. Sorry in advance to whoever I'm going to offend with this review because I know this is a popular book but it did not work for me.

A lot of people who don't like this don't like it because for a large part of the book, the heroine Annique is sort of the "prisoner" of the hero. So if you really dislike the idea of this (no matter how boring the hero is) then this book may rub you the wrong way. That's not at all what bothered me.

This takes place during the Napoleonic War
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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.

Other books in the series

Spymasters (6 books)
  • My Lord and Spymaster (Spymasters, #2)
  • The Forbidden Rose (Spymasters, #3)
  • The Black Hawk (Spymasters, #4)
  • Rogue Spy (Spymasters #5)
  • Beauty Like the Night (Spymasters, #6)

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In most historical romances, love and marriage go together like...well, a horse and carriage. But what if the girl part of the girl-meets-boy...
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“Do you know, when I am with you I am not afraid at all. It is a magic altogether curious that happens inside the heart. I wish I could take it with me when I leave.

It is sad, my Grey. We are constrained by the rules of this Game we play. There is not one little place under those rules for me to be with you happily. Or apart happily, which is what makes it so unfair.

I have discovered a curious fact about myself. An hour ago I was sure you were dead, and it hurt very much. Now you are alive, and it is only that I must leave you, and I find that even more painful. That is not at all logical.

Do you know the Symposium, Grey? The Symposium of Plato. [He] says that lovers are like two parts of an egg that fit together perfectly. Each half is made for the other, the single match to it. We are incomplete alone. Together, we are whole. All men are seeking that other half of themselves. Do you remember?

I think you are the other half of me. It was a great mix-up in heaven. A scandal. For you there was meant to be a pretty English schoolgirl in the city of Bath and for me some fine Italian pastry cook in Palermo. But the cradles were switched somehow, and it all ended up like this…of an impossibility beyond words.

I wish I had never met you. And in all my life I will not forget lying beside you, body to body, and wanting you.”
“She wanted to hit him with something, not in a lethal manner, but hard.” 2 likes
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