Series: Nexus #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on 3 April 2012
Reading Challenges: 2013 In Uniform Challenge
I decided to check this out after I read Devlyn’s A Lady’s Secret Weapon as an ARC. I enjoyed some aspects of the novel but the villain and portions of the plot were too over-the-top. Cora is a spy for Nexus, a British organisation charged with preventing Napoleon from breaching England’s shores. Her mission was to seduce information out of French spy Valere. One false move revealed her true identity. Cora was tortured until two Nexus agents rescued her. Valere isn’t willing to let her go so easily.
Cora de Beau’s strength of character was admirable even though it got her in all sorts of trouble. She was able to withstand eleven days of brutal torture without revealing British agents. Cora hadn’t recovered physically or mentally from her torture before she repeatedly put herself into situations where she could get kidnapped or assaulted by Valere. Even James Bond has a backup plan and relies on other agents for assistance so her actions smacked of hubris. Her insistence on martyring herself paid off as her injuries continued to mount. Unfortunately she didn’t learn from her past experiences so we were stuck on rinse and repeat mode.
Cora’s beau Guy is presented as an idealised hero. He’s an accomplished cryptographer, handsome, he’s desperate to protect Cora from any harm (even though she rejects his support) and he’s a great friend to Cora’s sister Ethan. He and Cora knew each other from when they were children but he only fell in love with her when she was in courtesan mode at a masquerade ball. He then waited for several years without doing anything about it. Guy pushes Cora into a physical relationship, ostensibly for her own benefit, while she is still recovering. I felt like he was taking advantage of the situation rather than empowering her.
Our villain is painted in such a heavy-handed manner it borders on the ridiculous. Not only is he turned on by torture and BDSM, he actually kills a kitten that was trying to protect Cora. I spent the rest of the novel wondering if he was going to twirl his moustache while laughing maniacally, steal candy from small children or run over elderly women with his carriage. In all seriousness, I wanted to know more about his background to understand where these tendencies came from. Nexus suspected that he had an insider feeding him information about their organisation. If this was true, why bother kidnapping and torturing Cora for agents’ names? Surely his insider could provide this information.
The detailed descriptions of torture and depravity weren’t really necessary and I don’t think they value-added. I also would have loved Cora and Guy to build a relationship now they are adults that amounted to more than lust. The erotic tai chi was odd rather than sexy and pulled me out of story. The pacing seemed a bit off in parts with lots of repetition and I’m afraid my attention started to wander. There is a side plot with Cora trying to find out who murdered her parents.
Even though I didn’t love this novel, I was interested to see the beginning of Devlyn’s journey with this series. If you are repelled by references to torture, please look elsewhere as this is quite a dark romance.