Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Weeks With A Stranger, by Debra Mullins

I decided to give this author my own fair trial after reading a brief, intriguing synopsis of this book. And I have to say, I’m glad I did. It has everything a good historical romance should have; sex (lots of it), spying, conflict, a climactic resolution, and two people who misunderstand each other and then fall in love. Perfect!

Two Weeks With A Stranger is the story of the Earl of Devingham, Simon Severton, and his new wife, Lucy, the daughter of a local squire. Simon has decided that it is time to devote his attention to the continuation of his line, and he picks Lucy as his bride, not only because she is attractive, but because she’s a “country miss”, and less likely to interfere with his London activities. And what activities those are!

Leaving Lucy the day after their very passionate wedding night (which is in the prologue for all of you who like your passion up front), he travels to London for an assignation with an Italian beauty. But all is not as it seems. For Simon is not the callous Lord with a mistress. He’s a wily agent for the Crown with a unique assignment. But poor Lucy, left alone in the country without even a wedding trip to show for her marriage, indeed only 24 hours to show for it, has not a clue. But she does have a plan to get him back in her bed.

Rumors have circulated back to her in Devingham, and she treks to London, theoretically to fulfill her friend’s dying wish, but also to save her marriage from the Italian mystery woman.

What follows is Simon trying to accomplish his mission of seducing Isabella for her secrets, while desperate to contain his feelings for his wife, who correctly surmises that there is more to Simon’s interest in Isabella than an affair. His friend, John Fox, and her friend, Virginia (Gin) Matthews, an American girl who is a loose cannon, add to the delightful mix of characters. The best part of this book is watching Simon try to compartmentalize these two parts of his life when Lucy refuses to follow the game plan and return to the country. And when he finally decides to come clean about his activities, Lucy is incognito, conducting her own undercover operation.

The book is also study in ton relationships and various social issues of the day. There is some interesting information on coal mining abuses and women’s suffrage in America, which is Gin’s passion and the reason she was banished to England to seek a spouse. There is murder, intrigue and a fascinating study of a man falling in love with his wife while realizing that putting England first is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

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