Sometimes, when I am preparing to write a blog and I have no idea what to write, I find myself heading to Wikipedia. Did you know you can put a date in the search box and there’s a page that details all the historical events of that day?
While you’ll be reading this on Oct. 16, I am writing it a day before and wow, while there aren’t a ton of events for the day, some of them are remarkably resonant! They include the conviction of Marie Antoinette (she was guillotined a day later), the beginning of Napoleon’s exile on St. Helena (where he would die) and the execution of Mata Hari.
Don’t those names just practically explode off the page? Don’t they make you want to sit down with a good historical novel and drift off to another time and place? Or at least read a bit more about Mata Hari, arguably the most famous spy ever? (I always thought she was innocent, kind of accused because she was promiscuous with officers on both sides—a bit of being in the wrong bed at the wrong time, so to speak—but apparently, there is evidence that she was guilty of spying for the Germans. Fascinating!)
Reading this little tidbit of history put me in mind of some great spy series, some I’ve read, some I’ve heard of. Do please share your own suggestions. Sometimes a good spy story hits just the right note.
Have you discovered Joanna Bourne yet? Her intricate plots and lush language are a joy to read, and her romantic arcs steeped in secrets and mistrust are to die for. And then there’s her uber-alpha Regency heroes and the courageous heroines who tame them. Rogue Spy releases in a few weeks and it looks great!
Of course, what spy romance article couldn’t mention Lauren Willig’s effervescent Pink Carnation series? I just love the dual time storytelling she uses, with the contemporary romance arc spreading across the series while in each book a Regency spy-based story ends with the historical couple getting its resolved happily-ever-after. These are so fun, and the most recent release, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, even has a spooky, Halloween-ish vampire thread. Want to start at the beginning? Pick up The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.
Sticking to the Regency era, I think I’ve mentioned Shana Galen’s Lord & Lady Spy series before, which is buoyant and fun, yet nicely hits romance high notes. The recent Love and Let Spy captured a vintage light-hearted James Bond-ish tone, though with a satisfying romantic happy ending.
Looking for an equally fun and light-hearted contemporary series? I’ve read a couple of Gina Robinson’s Agent Ex books and they were sexy and clever. Completely implausible, but in that amusing, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek way that’s satisfying and entertaining. The series starts with The Spy Who Left Me.
Finally, we’re at the “here are some books I found that I want to read” stage. I love Anne Stuart, and her unapologetically dark (but ultimately redeemed) historical heroes are some of my guilty favorites. Her contemporary Ice series looks hot and really dark, so I may have to find some of those to hole up with now that the weather is getting cooler!
I can’t believe I’ve never read any of Julia Quinn’s Agents of the Crown books, which look smart and cute, and how can you go wrong with JQ?
I know there are a slew of spy series I’m not mentioning here, so please share some suggestions. The new Bourne movie won’t be out until 2016. I’ll have to fill my time somehow!