Keeping her safe is difficult, keeping a proper distance from her is downright impossible.
Lady Lily Drummond understands only too well the danger of spy work. Her father, a preeminent master spy, has been missing for months, and her brother barely survived his final mission for the Crown. Lily is still determined to help find her father, no matter how hard her brother and his best friend try to keep her in the dark.
Busy trying to untangle the web of deceit surrounding the Earl of Windor’s disappearance, Crown spy Gray Masterson also has to ensure Lily Drummond, the gangly, awkward child who was his constant shadow growing up, doesn’t get herself ruined at her London debut. But the girl with scraped knees and elbows has evolved into a lush, sensual beauty surrounded by a bevy of suitors.
Realizing Lily is going to investigate on her own if he doesn’t let her join the hunt for her missing father, Gray assumes he can give Lily a few minor tasks to pacify her, but he quickly learns she is a valuable asset. Moreover, she fairly crackles with life and warmth—things he craves after his dark years in service.
Publisher and Release Date: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., August 25, 2015
Time and Setting: England, 1812
Genre: Historical Romantic Mystery
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
A romantic spy story combined with a strong undercurrent of searing sexual tension makes An Indecent Invitation an exciting and enjoyable read.
Gray Masterton was trained and educated to be a spy for the Crown by the Earl of Windor, providing Gray, the son of his steward, a gentleman’s education and, thus, a chance at a better life. The earl was a much-loved mentor to Gray, much like Mr. Darcy’s father was to the scoundrel Mr. Wickham in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. And, like Darcy and Wickham, Gray was raised almost as a sibling to the earl’s children, Rafe and Lily. Because of this, the Drummond family has no pretensions about class and aristocratic superiority; character matters more.
Gray has recently returned to London to investigate both the mysterious disappearance of the earl as well as to supervise Lady Lily’s first London season. Gray and Rafe have returned from a difficult mission, one that was especially harsh and traumatic for Rafe, leaving him recovering in the country.
Lady Lily Drummond has always been the annoying little sister but has turned into a beautiful, sophisticated, and playful woman who now captures Gray’s eye. She is smart, quick, fearless and wilful – and has also always secretly loved Gray. There is some painful history between Lily’s parents (and Lily and her father) that clouds her impressions of herself and this part of the story plays an important role in the mystery surrounding the earl’s disappearance. She manages to convince both Rafe and Gray that she can help locate her father.
But Gray finds he fears for Lily’s safety and her spontaneity and recklessness infuriate him because he can’t protect her, concentrate on the mission, and find her father at the same time. But though Gray is a spy, he is considered as less valuable than spies who are peers. I like his confidence and sexiness – I especially like that he wears spectacles! – and Ms. Trentham portrays him as decisive, dashing, and honorable. But he’s also kind and has a soft spot for Lily, no matter how much she vexes him. The argument with Lily in the carriage scene is especially intense and affecting.
The sexual tension between Gray and Lily simmers throughout the novel as Gray awakens Lily’s passionate desires and she wants to learn more. Her combination of innocence and passion drives him crazy, as his dangerous job is at odds with a married and settled existence.
Rafe is Lily’s older brother and also Gray’s closest friend. He’s an interesting, complex, and damaged gentleman and I hope Ms. Trentham writes his story next. It’s refreshing to read that Rafe has no qualms about letting Gray court his sister as I’m sure there were some peers who did not follow all of society’s stringent rules. The way the author depicts the dynamics of the close and loving relationship between Rafe and Lily is well done; they are good friends as well as siblings.
The danger and urgency of the spy mission is richly and vividly described. As Lily frantically picks locks, together she and Gray covertly explore studies and libraries, and question peers at various ton balls and routs. You can feel the tension, both sexual and elemental. There are also a few violent and terrifying moments, adding to the excitement and suspense.
An Indecent Invitation is the first in Ms.Trentham’s Spies and Lovers series and I look forward to reading more.