ONCE A SPY  by Mary Jo Putney


Email this review


Our man in Waterloo proposes a marriage of convenience and ends up with much more.

Suzanne Duval may be the Comtesse de Chambron but nevertheless, she’s making ends meet with piecework in a boardinghouse when Col. Simon Duval comes to find her. Simon, her late husband’s second cousin, has returned from his service as a spy in the Napoleonic wars and has sought her out to propose marriage. Suzanne and Simon met years ago and had a “teasing friendship,” so it’s no surprise that they take quick interest in one another. But Suzanne, whom readers of the Rogues Redeemed series (Once a Scoundrel, 2018, etc.) will recognize from previous volumes, is traumatized by the abuse she suffered in a harem for many years. Simon, who understands the "death of desire," proposes a marriage solely of companionship, and Suzanne accepts. As they begin their adventure-filled marriage together, traveling the Continent in the brief lull of the Napoleonic wars, Simon’s lust begins to reignite, and Suzanne is unsure whether she will be able to reciprocate his passion. But just as she begins to become more comfortable with Simon, Napoleon comes back from his exile, and soon the newlyweds are en route to a little town called Waterloo. As ever, Putney’s characters find themselves in mortal peril more than once as their love slowly blooms. Unfortunately, this developing romance is often undermined by several subplots, copious historical detail, and cameos from earlier entries in the series, and it’s burdened with a lot of unnecessary exposition. Readers who will be uncomfortable reading about a heroine struggling with PTSD–like symptoms related to sexual assault may need to skip this one. Suzanne does find her way toward healing and enjoying sex, and although this happens more quickly than some might expect, Simon’s tenderness with her makes it more believable. Fans of the series will likely enjoy this new entry, but it will be hit or miss for other historical romance readers.

An uneven Napoleonic tale that’s equal parts adventure and romance.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4201-4810-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019


FictionSEDUCTION ON A SNOWY NIGHT by Madeline Hunter
by Madeline Hunter
FictionONCE A SCOUNDREL  by Mary Jo Putney
by Mary Jo Putney
FictionONCE A REBEL by Mary Jo Putney
by Mary Jo Putney
FictionSOMETIMES A ROGUE by Mary Jo Putney
by Mary Jo Putney