You know that comfortable, warm sensation you get when you are surrounded by old friends? That’s the way I felt when I began reading Sebastian’s Lady Spy by Sharon Cullen, Part 5 of the Secrets and Seductions Series. Actually this is really Book 2.5 and Sebastian Addison, Earl of Claybrook, is the character who ties all the books together. As a spy for the English Crown during the 1850’s of Victorian Era London, Lord Addison not only solves mysteries, he also controls the lives of others, especially his brother and sister who have been his responsibility, along with the estate, since the death of his father when he was sixteen. The serious, stalwart Sebastian, knows his duty and performs it well, as directed by his boss, Sir Colin Atwater.
In this short novel, Cullen incorporates numerous characters from Books 1, 2, and 3. In Book 1, The Notorious Lady Anne, we are introduced to the pirate team of Lady Anne and Phin Lockwood as well as to Sebastian and his brother Nicholas. While Anne and Nick are on route for a vacation in Spain during the time span of this novel, Phin plays an integral role in the plot, albeit only as a minor character. He gets to tell his story, a completion of this one, in Book 3, Pleasuring the Pirate. Then there is Contessa Gabriella Marciano, our heroine, who also happens to be best friends with Sebastian’s sister, Lady Claire. We meet Gabby in Book 2, when Claire runs off to visit her friend’s home and inadvertently hooks up with Sebastian’s buddy Lord Blythe, Nathaniel Ferguson. Sebastian deduces that his little sis is headed to Venice where he tracks down the Contessa. The two seem a little too smug to be casual acquaintances when they finally meet up with Claire and Nathan, so the reader senses a romance.
And right they are. Sebastian and Gabriella have a short, yet torrid, three day affair with a mutual heads up that it will be a brief encounter, since both lovers have a busy life outside the bedroom. Seven months later the romance, which has never died, is rekindled when they discover they are both top spies for England’s Office of Intelligence who must work together to find out the identity of the traitor plotting with France to overthrow the King. Surprise and anger are their first reactions at incorrectly perceived deceptions, but lust rears its head as they are thrown together by necessity. As they face difficulties while spying together, Gabriella’s secrets are revealed. It is Claire who helps Gabby understand why Sebastian is not the carefree fellow she knew so well back at her villa. In this book we meet our villain, Grant McFadden, a Scottish rebel out for revenge after his fiancé was raped and murdered by English soldiers. He is angry and shrewd and not to be underestimated. His tale is completed in the third book of the series where we also meet his sister Mairi. How delicious the way Sharon stirs it all up together into one big pot of stew.
I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, though, like Book 4 in the series, His Saving Grace, it should have been a novella. I loved how the plot and the romance intertwined, although there was too much repetition of Gabby’s and Sebastian’s salacious thoughts. We get it, they are overwhelmed by their attraction towards one another. I would have rather had a little more action, perhaps at the social events or even some additional interplay between Gabby and Claire, than unrequited lustful inner feelings. However, when the two lovers finally do get together, it is quite steamy. The storyline is pretty straightforward, short and sweet, really not much to develop. Yet, when things do start to happen, it is quite exciting. So, no fillers please. Tighten it up (although this book is already a quick read) or add in some more plot.
In spite of its flaws, I loved the fact that Sebastian finally found the one who was a perfect fit, and even though I already knew what would happen next (since I have read all the books in this series), I remained intrigued. Book 6 – Some love for Sir Colin?
I would like to thank Loveswept and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.