Raised in the East, Mari Sinclair knows it’s time to end her career as a British spy when she narrowly misses a bullet. Unfortunately, those in power need the information she’s been obtaining for them and they’re not above blackmailing her and forcing her to work for them.
Given a “protector” to ensure she survives and completes her final mission, Mari becomes infuriated with their choice. Her guardian, Major Bennett Prestwood, is too dedicated, too obstinate and too handsomely distracting. As Bennett faces dark secrets and the growing treachery, it’s clear that the danger to Mari is growing. And as passion and desire between them spirals out of control, Bennett will have to break the rules to keep Mari alive.
A Secret in Her Kiss is a captivating debut regency romance by Anna Randol. Set in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the focus of this story is the romance between Mari Sinclair, a half British-half Greek young woman spying on the Ottoman Empire for the British, and Major Bennett Prestwood, a British nobleman and army officer tasked with keeping her alive. Ms. Randol’s characters and descriptions of life in Constantinople are captivating and captured my attention from the first page.
Unlike other young women in her situation, Mari Sinclair, does not have marriage on her mind. The daughter of a British archeologist and Greek woman, Mari is determined to help her mother’s people obtain their freedom from the corrupt Ottoman Empire. Spying on several military forts throughout the countryside of Constantinople, Mari is able to disguise her drawings as naturalist renditions of butterfly wildlife. When her safety is at risk and she wants to quit acting being a spy for the British, she finds herself blackmailed by the British government, whose agent threatens to leak his knowledge of her support of Greek freedom fighters. Forced to accept a “guardian” and continue spying for the British, Mari does not expect to fall in love with the dedicated officer she accepts as a pretend suitor.
After surviving the Battle of Waterloo, Major Bennett Prestwood simply wants to go home. He wants to visit his family, deal with his sister’s abusive husband, and retire to his estate. Instead, he finds himself on a “final” assignment, tasked with guarding a spy for the British government. Using the cover of visiting his cousin, the British ambassador in Constantinople, Bennett plans to push the spy to get the job done. He never planned on falling in love or on questioning his duty.
Forced to act as Mari’s suitor, Bennett can’t deny his attraction to the exotic beauty. While neither Mari nor Bennett planned on having a real relationship, the attraction between them is undeniable, not matter how hard they try to fight it. I really enjoyed how Ms. Randol developed their relationship; as their attraction grows, their relationship evolves into love, though it’s filled with a lot of misunderstanding. Both Mari and Bennett are strong, loyal and headstrong people and their dialogue is sharp and filled with a lot of give and take. While Mari is at odds with Bennett’s determination to do his duty, Bennett is forced to admire her fierce independence and loyalty to her cause.
While the danger around them intensifies, and betrayal seems imminent, Mari and Bennett are forced to rely on each other. Will they be able to complete the final assignment without being caught? And will Bennett and Mari finally admit their love for each other? You’ll have to read A Secret in Her Kiss to find out. I really enjoyed Ms. Randol’s book and believe she’ll be an author to watch.
Debut author Anna Randol tells the exotic, sultry, and adventurous romance of a fiercely independent heroine determined to live life on her own terms and the handsome soldier who will break the rules he has lived his life by to realize a love he never believed possible.