by Cindy Anstey
Published on April 19, 2016 by Swoon Reads
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.
Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.
This book was SUCH a fun read! If I’m being totally honest, I was hooked from the back cover synopsis alone. The idea of a heroine who likes to study insects appeals to my science side, not to mention the fact that she’s a bit socially awkward, highly independent, and a bit snarky too. Paired with a spy on a mission, this dynamic duo made for a highly entertaining read.
I’ll warn you now, this isn’t a “smutty” romance, but a slow burn with plenty of sexual tension and lots of trouble for our leads to get into. Definitely a lighter, fun read versus some of the “sexy novels” (as my friend enjoys labeling them) that you see in the romance genre.
Juliana isn’t one to break the rules but her interests also happen to contradict what a lady should do. It was a nice contrast since often I feel like I’m either reading about a woman who just wants a husband or a rebellious lady intent on telling societal rules to shove it. Juliana felt more… real because she didn’t disregard society but also remained true to herself. I’d call her quirky. She’s a bit awkward, and doesn’t always pick up on the nuances of flirtation (which makes it all the more entertaining), but she’s sweet and intelligent and grounded. Definitely topping my list of favorite historical romance heroines.
Her counterpart Spencer was a bit of a different sort of gentleman because he’s a spy (dun dun DUN). He’s all sorts of proper and duty-bound, knowing that he can’t have anyone else, really, in his life while employed by the War Office. His mission comes first and Juliana just happens to be the perfect person to help him without tangling himself in a societal mess. Though someone forgot to mention that his emotions might cause an even bigger problem.
I think Juliana and Spencer’s relationship was one of my favorites that I’ve read to-date. They go into it with a few secrets each but not ones that hindered their personalities. This isn’t a relationship of lust or desire, but of purpose turned friendship turned romance. Their path is slow but natural and you just follow along. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good enemies-to-lovers story but I also really enjoyed the friends who connected on a deeper level. It was a different sort of romance and the tension of the story wasn’t lacking just because the characters weren’t at odds with each other.
Where many romances take a bit of a more serious approach to the storytelling, usually relying on some tragedy in one of the character’s lives or focusing on all the hot-and-heavy details, Love, Lies and Spies kept things lighthearted and upbeat, giving this regency romance a new twist that made it a quick and enjoyable read. I devoured this book in one sitting and pretty sure I fell in love with Spencer in the process. I honestly regret letting this book go unread and on my shelf for so long. Definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys a good, clean romance with lovable characters and a dash of mystery. You can bet I’ll be reading Anstey’s future books!