While You Were Spying
Book 0/Prequel in the Regency Spies series
Author Shana Galen
Narrated by Heather Wilds
Publication date Nov 10, 2015
Published by Tantor Media
Running time 13 hrs 7 min
Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The latest addition to the Regency Spies series, While You Were Spying is the highly anticipated prequel to When Dashing Met Danger and Pride and Petticoats.
Francesca Dashing would like to forget that Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, exists. He humiliated her in front of all of London Society—and he doesn’t even remember it! But when Ethan shows up in her sleepy Hampshire town, he’s hard to overlook, and his presence stirs up long-buried feelings. Francesca tries to keep her distance…until her life is threatened and the mysterious and handsome marquess comes to her rescue, in more ways than she ever thought possible.
Winterbourne has traveled to Hampshire on orders from the Foreign Office—he’s investigating an arms smuggling ring and is determined to find its leader. Miss Dashing stumbles into his way—literally—and derails both Ethan’s assignment and his ordered country life. Ethan knows he needs to ignore the distraction, but when Francesca is the victim of a vicious attack, he’s compelled to put aside his mission to protect her. Guarding the viscount’s daughter is work, nothing more, and Ethan has no plans to let down his guard…until Francesca’s chocolate-brown eyes and endless compassion melt the ice in his heart and lay siege to his defenses. https://tantor.com/while-you-were-spying-hana-galen.html
This story is about the moments in one’s life that shape you, that define you.
There is one truly horrific reason Winterbourne is a spy, and it has to do with just such an event. And there is a reason he is about as likely to be a good, understanding husband as an old stick. He is, in my estimation, emotionally unbalanced – probably suffering from a sort of PTSD. A past experience with a scheming woman, and his mother’s second marriage create a confusing and contradictory need to protect Francesca but not to trust her. I actually thought the reaction he has to women and the concept of fidelity to be grossly out of proportion. Several of his behaviors in the book point to someone emotionally unhinged and unpredictable.
Of those two separate instances one is one that really stuck with me; it is pretty horrible and, at least for me, eclipsed everything else in the book and it completely shapes Winterbourne’s adult life. Yet, it only covers a couple of pages.
Francesca’s a sweet and endlessly compassionate woman. She has a magical veterinary ability, she is thoughtful to all around her. She’s like a sassy Snow White. And like Snow White, it is impossible not to like her.
The villain’s motives are transparent but his personality is not. I always thought of this villain as a Simon Legree character — twirling his mustache.
Francesca’s mother is a piece of work, and in voicing her the narrator really does a great job:she mispronounces and misuses Italian without indicating the ridiculousness of the character. The character takes herself very seriously and is not your average mother trying to marry off her two daughters. Actually, most of the characters have one or two traits that make them interesting; even unusual.
I had a hard time warming up to anyone other than Francesca; everyone else in the book seems intent on using her to their own ends, except the servants and the animals.
But, the story was exciting, edgy and, for all that I would have liked to seen her just tell Winterbourne to bugger off, had hot hook ups between the couple! And, I enjoyed the narration. But, because I never warmed to the characters’ relationship, it fizzled for me. If you have been waiting for this book, here it is. As a prequel, perhaps it is the first story in the series you would want to read.