Captured Countess by Ann Lethbridge

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Never trust a spy!

Nicoletta, the Countess Vilandry, is on a dangerous mission — to lure fellow spy Gabriel D’Arcy into bed and into revealing his true loyalties. With such sensual games at play and such strong sensations awakened, suddenly Nicky’s dangerously close to exposing her real identity.

Gabe knows that the countess has been sent to seduce him. The only question is to what end? He’s never met such a captivating woman—and he’s determined to enjoy every seductive second she spends as his very willing captive!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This book has been recently re-issued under the title GABRIEL D’ARCY.

Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin Historical, December 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Napoleonic era, Cornwall and France
Genre: Historical romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Gabriel (Gabe) D’Arcy is a handsome but impoverished marquess who exudes a devil-may-care attitude of charm and sensuality as he mingles in a polite society that whispers about his native loyalties. But that’s okay since Gabe is making a living as a spy in Napoleonic England. He works for an elite but unorthodox secret spy ring called Sceptre and the gossip about his activities works to his advantage.

Nicoletta, the beautiful Countess of Vilandry, was born Nicky Rideau, a wealthy French aristocrat whose parents were killed in riots during the Reign of Terror. Saved by a ruthless and unhappy marriage arranged by her uncle to an older and influential man, her life was spared but at a great and heartbreaking cost to both her and her younger sister, Minette, who has gone missing and whom Nicky seeks. Nicky is also a spy, but she was coerced into service in order to be able to return to France to find her missing sister. Her mission? To uncover the truth of Gabe’s true loyalties – French or English? Her weapon? Seduction.

Gabe is a smart man, however, and knows exactly what the beautiful countess is up to. And he decides to play her game to his own ends. He needs to find the reason that Nicky was sent. As a result, neither Nicky nor Gabe trust each other as each thinks the other is loyal to France.

But Nicky and Gabe are also very attracted to each other and their passion threatens to get in the way of the mission, thwart their goals, and reveal their loyalties. Nicky and Gabe are a mature older couple who – against their better judgement – engage in what both believe is only a casual affair even as they slowly fall in love and begin – reluctantly – to trust each other.

Nicky is a brave heroine, a survivor who carries the weight of the past and the world on her shoulders. She is smart, too, and doesn’t make dumb decisions which put her into situations from which Gabe must “rescue” her. She has a goal in mind and she stays the course. Gabe admires Nicky and comes to protect and love her as she has never been cared for before. Theirs is a sexy and poignant love story and both hero and heroine are strong individuals who come to let down their guards and let love in.

Ann Lethbridge pens an exciting and fast-paced tale that takes the reader from a hot and stuffy ballroom in England, on a long and tiring journey to a crumbling estate on the Cornish coast – complete with secret passages and caves – and, finally, on a dangerous sea voyage to France. Rich descriptions of topography and rest stops at local inns along the way add colorful imagery to a gripping story. Along the way, Nicky and Gabe play a sensual game where passionate feelings war with logic and the goals of their respective missions. Their romance is as prominent as the espionage creating a captivating historical picture.

Fiction also meets history when the King of England makes a pivotal appearance near the end in this romantic story of intrigue. If you enjoy the thrilling spy stories of Donna Thorland and Shana Galen, you will enjoy this book.

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