Lady Elinor Dunsmore made the mistake of falling for her older brother’s best friend, who vanished after a night of unbridled passion. Six years and a lifetime later, their eyes meet across a Paris salon. Her friends and family believe she’s dead, but Elle is very much alive. She’s now associated with a ruthless general, who wants her to seduce the man who broke her heart in order to learn his deepest secrets. Is Will a mild-mannered scholar—or the notorious agent they call The Razor?
The bastard son of an earl and an actress, Will Naismith always knew he was an unsuitable match for Elle Dunsmore, no matter how powerfully he ached for her. And yet he almost allowed his desires to spoil her glittering future. After the agony caused by Elle’s supposed death, Will has devoted himself to the Crown, but his entire life has been leading up to this unexpected reunion. As much as he still wants her, though, he must not succumb to lust once again. For his mission is delicate—and Elle is delectably dangerous.
Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, July 2016
Time and Setting: Regency England/Napoleonic France
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars
Review by Jenny Q
After the sudden death of Elinor Dunsmore, the young woman he loved, Will Naismith spent the next six years throwing himself into his work, traveling the globe and rooting out information close to home, all in service to the English crown. We first met him in Spy Fall, where he helped Elinor’s brother unmask a traitor and discover the whereabouts of Elinor’s daughter. Now in Paris on a new assignment, Will is shocked to come face-to-face with none other than Elinor herself, very much alive, the darling of post-Revolution society, and mistress of one of France’s most dangerous men. As Elle evades his questions, discounting the love they once shared, and continues to grace the arm of the man Will is tasked with stopping before he can divulge state secrets, Will realizes this Elinor is nothing like the woman he once loved beyond all reason, and she’s likely a traitor to her homeland. When one of his top agents goes missing and a connection to Elinor is uncovered, Will must put the past behind him and fulfill his duty to king and country, no matter the cost.
Will Naismith is the last person Elle ever expected to see in Paris. Though she wants nothing more than to lose herself in his embrace – which still sets her heart racing after all these years – she has no choice but to keep him at arm’s length. That is until her ruthless companion – one of Napoléon’s generals – tasks her with seducing Will in an effort to uncover the identity of Le Rasoir, England’s top intelligence officer in France. Since the general is holding the whereabouts of her missing daughter over her head, Elle is forced to comply. Even though she has secrets of her own, nothing prepares her for the secrets Will is hiding or the lengths he is willing to go to in the name of duty. But as the two circle each other in an effort to outsmart and outlast, all while attempting to deny the connection between them, the game they are playing turns deadly, and both will have to decide what they are willing to risk for love, for each other, and for the chance at a future they never thought they could have together.
I had such high hopes for A License to Wed based on how much I enjoyed the first book in the series, Spy Fall. Finding out that Elinor was alive when everyone thought her dead for the past six years was a shocking twist, and I couldn’t wait to find out where she had been and how her loved ones would react to the news. Unfortunately, most of it fell flat for me. I couldn’t believe that Will didn’t immediately demand answers or keep pressing Elinor for the truth, and I found Elinor’s flippant treatment of her return from the dead to be very callous and selfish. Nor did I find a satisfactory explanation for where she’d been, how her family came to think she was dead in the first place, and why she never bothered to disabuse them of that notion. And so much of the angst between Will and Elinor could have been cleared up if they had just TALKED to each other. Misunderstandings are one of my least favorite plot devices in romance. To me, it’s a hallmark of a weak plot, and there was so much to work with in this story that it really could have been better developed. I thought I was going to get a tale of two spies caught up in a dangerous game of intrigue, but that’s really not what happened at all. And Will and Elinor’s romance lacked the witty banter and sexy innuendo that made Spy Fall so good.
I was invested enough to keep reading to see how it would all end, and there were some exciting moments and touching scenes of tenderness along the way. In browsing other reviews, my feelings are definitely in the minority. If you loved Spy Fall, you’ve got to read A License to Wed for the continuation of the story, but overall it did not live up to my (admittedly high) expectations.