From the BLURB:
Phillippa Benning is the unrivaled beauty of the Season. But when another lady challenges her for a marquis's attentions, Phillippa entices him to a secret rendezvous - only to stumble upon The Blue Raven, England's most famous spy, lurking at the site of her planned tryst.
The Blue Raven has uncovered an enemy plot directed at upcoming society functions, but he's unable to infiltrate London society. Phillippa makes an offer: in exchange for entrée among the ton, he agrees to have his true identity revealed at the Benning Ball - guaranteeing her unrivaled notoriety. As the danger draws closer, the mysterious spy and Phillippa give in to mutual desire. But when the game turns deadly, betrayal waits around the corner, and Phillippa must decide once and for all - is it the myth that captured her heart, or the man?
This is Kate Noble’s second novel.
I read and adored her debut novel ‘Compromised’. And I was not in the least bit disappointed by her second novel…
I loved this book, mostly because it flies in the face of most romance conventions.
To begin with, the leading lady is a bit hard to like. Phillipa Benning is a Ton darling – she became widowed five days after her marriage, and spent subsequent years enjoying the added freedom widowhood granted her. She preens for the society pages, bats her eyes at handsome young bucks and has London society wrapped around her little finger. Phillipa is quite opposite to any other female romance protagonist I have ever read. She comes across as quite self-involved, egotistical and snobbish. She has a biting wit that is mostly aimed at badly dressed young ladies floundering in their first season. And in her first few scenes, readers are witness to an ongoing rivalry between Ms. Phillipa Benning and one Lady Jane Cummings – the cattiness is not attractive, and furthers colors Phillipa’s prickly demeanor.
But throughout the book Noble peels back Phillipa’s many layers. She is in fact a very intelligent and empowered young woman, whose charmed life is not as dazzling as the society pages suggest. It’s a very satisfying and intriguing character development – especially because in the romance genre it is normally the male lead that readers (and the stories’ heroine) have to investigate and delve beyond initial facades.
In ‘Revealed’ the male protagonist is in fact quite a straightforward, and ‘open book’ of a character. Marcus Worth is nothing special. He is tall and lanky (‘string-bean’, Phillipa initially sneers) with passable looks, and is the third-son to a nothing Lord. Phillipa ignores him initially – until an unexpected encounter in a Sarcophagus forces them together.
It’s all switched up in this historical romance. The leading man is a plain and sweet gentlemen (albeit with a whopping big secret) and it’s the heroine who undergoes the big transformation and unveiling of character. Phillipa, not Marcus, is the one who flits and flirts and has her eye set on a Marquis conquest. Noble devastates convention by making the heroine the character that needs ‘taming’.
The romance is spectacular – it is a case of opposites attracting, and the differences between Phillipa and Marcus make their relationship combustible and delicious.
She replaced it carefully, and leaned over even farther, reaching for ‘Birds’, volume R. Reaching, reaching… almost there… her finger was just on the spine—
“Why is it I always find you skulking about other people’s libraries?”
Phillipa nearly jumped out of her skin, and turned. Unfortunately, being so precariously balanced on a ladder while out-of-skin jumping has the most predictable of Newtonian effects.
Right into the waiting arms of Marcus Worth.
“Hello” he said cheerfully, his mouth twisted into a wry smile. “Just me.”
Cradled in his embrace, staring into his eyes, Phillipa knew one thing.
It was going to be the challenge of her life to talk her way out of this one.
One thing I love about Kate Noble is her masterful writing. She imbues her characters with dry wit, her scenes with dazzling extravagance and her plot is a twisted affair. The romance is wonderful, but there’s also a ‘whodunnit’ in this book that really adds flavour and makes for a fulfilling read.
I love this author – she is now an automatic-buy for me. Her third book (about Lady Jane Cummings) is ‘The Summer of You’ and is out now.