Author: Anne Ashley
ISBN: 0-373-30502-8 (Harlequin Historical – Regency)
Finished: 10 June 2007
Who: Katherine O’Malley and Daniel Ross
From the back: Spirited Katherine O’Malley, sent to France to flush out a traitor, is prepared for discomfort, fear, even danger in her country’s service. She isn’t prepared to work with handsome rake Major Daniel Ross — posing as his wife! Katherine knows all about his womanizing ways, and she’s determined to resist his charms — no matter how strongly they affect her. But when Napoleon’s escape from Elba forces the pretend couple to flee across hostile France, Katherine has to trust Daniel absolutely.
Comments: Katherine is a rational, common sense, young woman. She doesn’t whine or have fits, and she’s not prone to fainting spells. She’s brave and quick-thinking. She’s also short-tempered and strong-willed (but not spoiled). Despite being a rational person, Katherine clings to the rather silly belief that she is the Kiss of Death to those she loves. Her defense mechanism – to prevent people from getting too close to her – is her sharp tongue. Her dislike of Daniel is founded on an assumption, which is quickly resolved, and it is her “Kiss of Death” notion that stands between her and Ross.
Daniel is the typical soldier/landed gentry Regency male. He’s used to giving orders and having them obeyed. He really didn’t want to be on this mission — having finally resolved to return to his estate, Rosslair, and devote his energies to it’s upkeep — but the wily spy-master appealed to his strong sense of duty. Besides being brave and loyal, Daniel is also kind and chivalrous. He is not, as Katherine thinks, an unprincipled rake. Years ago, the love of his life married someone else. So far, he hasn’t found a woman who captures his heart the same way. He’s not sure, however, if it’s because he’s become cynical or if it’s because he’s never found her equal – she is, to his mind, the epitome of womanhood. Katherine, with her fiery temper and hair, sharp tongue, and strong will is the complete opposite of his childhood sweetheart.
As expected when there are two strong-willed characters, there’s going to be Stupid Behavior and arguments. Fortunately, neither go overboard, though I thought Daniel was stepping over the line a few times. To be fair, the first time he made that misstep in propriety, it was in reaction to Katherine about to cross over into the “Too Stupid To Live” zone. Overall, their behavior did not became irritating to me, as the reader. Even Katherine’s “Kiss of Death” notion was not intrusive to the story.
The traitor plot was wrapped up neatly and it never got in the way of the story of Katherine and Daniel, other than being the reason for where they were and what they were doing. It was very simple and straightforward. I look forward to reading more from this author.
“I have made it a rule only ever to take the floor with those gentlemen sporting scarlet coats.”
“That decision, if you’ll forgive my saying so, ma’am, betrays a shocking lack of judgement for one with your particular shade of hair.”
— red-headed Katherine; Daniel, in riflemen’s green
“For the love of God, Kate, don’t go all missish on me now! I’m only asking you to act the part of a strumpet, not to take up the profession in earnest, for heaven’s sake!”
“I shall take leave to inform you, Major Ross, that I am incapable of attempting such a portrayal. My experience of strumpets, and how they conduct themselves, is non-existent.”
– Daniel, Katherine