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Joanna Bourne - The Spymaster's Lady
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Margaret wrote:
I'm not finished yet, and not sure if I'll try again.

In my post I mentioned that the first third of the book was not going in the direction I thought it would after hearing all the praises here. I did feel that sometime after that, it definitely picked up for me. May I suggest, Margaret, that you continue on? I would say if you've come to the halfway mark and still haven't latched on to it, you probably won't.
It's been discussed before, but sometimes too much acclamation for anything can be a spoiler from the get-go. Impossible expectations arise (how can they not?) and consequently are not always met. I did ultimately feel the book was worth it; but, in all honesty, there were some scenarios that were a bit of a stretch!
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Jane A



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 767
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:

It's been discussed before, but sometimes too much acclamation for anything can be a spoiler from the get-go. Impossible expectations arise (how can they not?) and consequently are not always met. I did ultimately feel the book was worth it; but, in all honesty, there were some scenarios that were a bit of a stretch!


You know that is so true. More than one book I've read has failed for me because I absorbed so much hype surrounding it before I actually read it. There's a fine line between picking up good tips on books to read and getting way too much information about it. Fortunately, I bought and read The Spymaster's Lady almost on the first day it was released so I was saved from these discussions that might have spoiled it for me.

Note to self - try to use these message boards sparingly.... (ha)
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jane A wrote:
Fortunately, I bought and read The Spymaster's Lady almost on the first day it was released so I was saved from these discussions that might have spoiled it for me.)

You know--picking this book up so early on (especially after first viewing the horrendous cover), and then discovering the kind of story that was inside, was probably an unexpected pleasure, Jane. Not that books with terrible covers can't be good, because we know that's not true. This cover just did not present the story that was contained within as well as it could have.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 882

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Tee wrote:
Margaret wrote:
I'm not finished yet, and not sure if I'll try again.

In my post I mentioned that the first third of the book was not going in the direction I thought it would after hearing all the praises here. I did feel that sometime after that, it definitely picked up for me. May I suggest, Margaret, that you continue on? I would say if you've come to the halfway mark and still haven't latched on to it, you probably won't.
It's been discussed before, but sometimes too much acclamation for anything can be a spoiler from the get-go. Impossible expectations arise (how can they not?) and consequently are not always met. I did ultimately feel the book was worth it; but, in all honesty, there were some scenarios that were a bit of a stretch!


Good advice, Tee. I've moved on to Hot by Julia Harper for now. TSL was just too ridiculous for me.
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desiderata



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished TSL and I loved it. I so enjoyed the dialogue -- as others have noted, the English/French characterization is excellent. I found the plot engrossing, and the characters well developed. It was fun getting to "know" so many likeable and interesting people -- Doyle, Adrian, Grey and of course, Annique. The title of the book is really a misnomer because it is Annique's story -- she is the pivotal and most unique and important character. I could go on and on, but I think it's the best book I've read in years.

Having finished it, though, I'm rather indignant on the author's behalf. What a dumb and non-descriptive title and what a completely horrible cover -- it looks as though the book would be an old bodice ripper, when nothing is further from the truth. In fact, I first went to look for the book at Barnes and Noble, but the cover was so cheesy and ridiculous I couldn't bring myself to buy it! It was only after reading online, again and again, how good this book was that I ordered it online. It's really too bad that the title and book cover could so misrepresent such a wonderful book.
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LeeB.



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1281
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

desiderata wrote:
Having finished it, though, I'm rather indignant on the author's behalf. What a dumb and non-descriptive title and what a completely horrible cover -- it looks as though the book would be an old bodice ripper, when nothing is further from the truth. ...It's really too bad that the title and book cover could so misrepresent such a wonderful book.

I bet the author was just happy to get her book published, horrible cover or not. As authors get more and more famous, I suppose they can have a little more input on the covers -- maybe! Wink
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SarahT



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 207
Location: Europe

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to have to go with the dissenting minority on this: TSL was barely average. I cannot understand why people love this book so much! Did anyone else think the heroine was seriously TSTL?
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Seriously, she attacks people while BLIND; miraculously regains her sight; says she's in love with Grey, then decides she has feelings for Robert, failing to recognise them as one and the same person. I really dislike that plot device of the heroine meeting the hero in two guises and failing to recognise him.

I also thought the ending was a major disappointment. Just in case Annique wasn't dumb enough already, we then discover that she's unwittingly been spying for the British, and the head of the British secret service turns out to be her long-lost grandfather. Aagh!

The only redeeming feature of the book was Adrian. I would have been happier had he been the hero, preferably with a sensible heroine.
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SarahT
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desiderata



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MAJOR SPOILERS
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I don't get why not recognizing Robert was Grey made Annique TSTL -- she never saw Grey, so she had no idea what he looked like. Grey spoke only French, Robert spoke only English, and the author went into some detail to explain how different his voice was in the different languages. Whether that rings true in real life, I don't know, but for purposes of the story it's certainly a legitimate explanation. If she didn't know what Grey looked like and his voice was completely different and he was an accomplished spy who was determined to hide his identity from her and didn't slip up -- how was she to know they were one and the same? In what ways was she stupid?


I also don't know how she was supposed to know she was British intelligence when her mother raised her to believe she was French, everyone, including the entire British and French secret service, thought her father was a French hero, she was raised and trained by the top French spies, and her mother never told her the truth. It was such a completely successful charade and so completely secret that only the very head of British intelligence, who set the whole thing in motion, knew the truth. What signs did Annique stupidly miss that should have made her suspect that she was a top British spy instead of a French spy?

I dunno -- I can understand some of the reasons people have disliked the book, but thinking Annique was TSTL? I totally don't get that.
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Kristie(J)



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1129
Location: Southwestern Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I dunno -- I can understand some of the reasons people have disliked the book, but thinking Annique was TSTL? I totally don't get that.


Me neither! I thought Annique very intelligent and savy. We all have different tastes and thoughts on what's good and what's not - but I loved this one.
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JMM



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 510

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:12 am    Post subject: SPOILERS Reply with quote

I've never read this book (and now I KNOW I never will) but I imagine the author did the "heroine has been working for the British all along" for one reason - to "redeem" her.

After all, if she had been working for the French, she would be responsible for British deaths. And that would be unacceptable to a lot of readers. Everyone who reads romance knows the rules! English = Noble and Good, French = Eeeeeevvvvvvvvvvviiiiiiiiilllllllllll. (With the exception of a few token French people who hate Napoleon and want the Noble Royals back. (That didn't work out so well, from what I read.)
Spoilers:

Remember all the fuss when it turned out Melanie in "Daughter of the Game" had been a French Spy and responsible for the deaths of Noble British Men?


Last edited by JMM on Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 882

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Did anyone else think the heroine was seriously TSTL?


I haven't been able to finish...but what I did read was TSTL...not just the heroine. OTOH I know there are many books out there that I love and others hate.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Margaret wrote:
but what I did read was TSTL...not just the heroine.

There were certain situations in the book that were a bit of a stretch for me, maybe not quite TSTL, but just a bit overdone. I got the fact very early on that she was intelligent. I guess maybe that's why I didn't think Bourne needed to go overboard to show this. So some issues became eye-rollers for me. I too wondered about that twisting at the end with discovering her connections with England, because French spies wouldn't have held that much esteem in the reader's eyes during that period. Even so, Bourne did fine for a first novel (if it is her first one); and I do look forward to her next one, which will probably define her style even more.


Last edited by Tee on Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 677

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I've never read this book (and now I KNOW I never will) but I imagine the author did the ... (edited for spoilers) ... for one reason - to "redeem" her.


No, that wasn't how I read it at all. Spoilers.

Partly, the situation at the end of the book is that the French authorities want Annique returned to France, at almost any cost. So the author has to resolve that.
Also, throughout the book, both heroine and hero are loyal to their convictions - the conflict in the latter half of the book is really how Annique can avoid betraying France. It's one of the nice things about the book, that neither would dream of abandoning their responsibilities for love, and that they both respect that in the other.

For my money, the revelation mainly was to solve the first problem - because the protocol described in the book is that both sides don't go after the other side's spies. So as long as Annique is a French spy, they'll go to any lengths to get her back, but if she's an English spy, she can live safely in England.
(Edited to add - thinking about it, 'mainly' is perhaps a bad choice of word. It also gets over the difficulty that Annique has loyalty to the French people, and wouldn't want to reveal secrets she had learned during her time as a spy that might harm them. However, as it's war time, the hero would have a clear duty to try and get that information from her. The fact that the British already have that information allows the HEA to work.)

The book does establish early on that she never spied on the British.

BTW, I know you haven't read the book, but the fact that she had unknowingly been working for the British is a major plot twist that comes right at the end of the book. Might be worth editing your post to put in a spoiler warning.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2508

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think anybody who has read the book will defend Annique's character and actions as "realistic." The book's appeal has nothing to do with reality. It's the vitality, the verve, the wit of the interactions of the hero and heroine that appeal, IMO, all of which are enhanced by the indomitability of Annique. So it's not realistic. What romance is? The author not only accepts that caveat; she uses it, and in doing so creates a story with the same uplifting appeal as the little engine that could or Cinderella or Zorro or David vs Goliath.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 882

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So it's not realistic. What romance is?


I agree. However, there are times when suspending belief is pushed to the limits and this book certainly did this for me. Glad you enjoyed it, Dick, so many seem to love it.
Quote:

It's the vitality, the verve, the wit of the interactions of the hero and heroine that appeal


Again I didn't see that in these characters.
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