Once A Spy by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Spy (Rogues Redeemed, #4)Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues Redeemed #4
Publication Date: 9/24/19
Number of Pages: 368

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I thought the hero, Simon Duval, was a heroic man every sense of the word. He was protective, honorable, kind, considerate, a leader who was respected by his men and his superiors and most of all very caring. The heroine, Suzanne Duval, Comtesse de Chambron, is free from slavery, but she’s been living in poverty in London. Suzanne is not the fragile woman you’d think her to be after enduring the things she has, but, she can’t stand any man’s overtures.

We first met Suzanne in the third book, Once a Scoundrel, when she helped to rescue the heroine, Lady Aurora Lawrence, from the harem in which they were both imprisoned. Suzanne had spent years enduring torture in the harem where she was owned by one of the cruelest men alive. Before that, she had been married, at fifteen, to a cold, unfeeling aristocrat who took her young, tender love and promptly cheated on her and treated her with disrespect and disdain. She went from that directly into slavery where she did what she had to in order to survive. Suzanne is native French, but with the Napoleonic wars going on, she asked to be returned to England when she was rescued. Even the French émigré’s won’t accept her when she returns – in their eyes, she is ruined – a whore – not fit for polite company. So, she supports herself by taking in piecework.

Colonel Simon Duval had met Suzanne at her wedding when she was marrying his much, much older cousin. He was seventeen and she was fifteen and they became friends. All these years later he has learned about Suzanne’s life and her return to London. He plans to find her and assure that she is well – and maybe even help her if he can. Simon has seen years of war and cruelty – death beyond measure – including the woman he loved. He thinks he’s unfeeling, he doesn’t even feel desire anymore.

When Simon visits Suzanne at her boarding house and they talk a bit, he surprises himself by asking her to marry him. It will be totally in name only with no physical intimacies at all. He wants a friend, someone to spend his life with, but no romance. That should work out for both of them because she cannot bear the idea of any man touching her. It takes a bit, but he manages to convince her that it can work – and even gives her an out and stability if it doesn’t. Poor man — he doesn’t count on his desire reawakening — now what is he going to do!

I’ve seen some reviews that said the first part of the book was too slow – at least the part about coming to physical intimacy. I disagree. I think Simon was wonderful in the way he dealt with Suzanne and I think if you put yourself in Suzanne’s shoes – having had unspeakable sexual tortures visited upon her by a sadistic man – you’d realize that Simon has to be very slow in reawakening her desire. Frankly, it is a wonder it ever happened. The other parts of the story beginning-to-end weren’t slow at all.

Once they traveled to Brussels, the action really picked up. The very real danger in Belgium and France comes across in the actions and descriptions in the book. Suzanne shows her bravery – as does Simon. Each makes their own significant contributions to the war effort after Napoleon escapes from Elba.

I loved that this book wasn’t about insta-lust. I loved that the love and intimacy grew over time until they were both ready for it. That made the romance so very believable.

One thing that came out of the blue and just threw me – one of those ‘Say-What’ kinds of things – had to do with Lucas and his ‘gift’. I didn’t see a need for it in the story – but – I can only assume that it will have something to do with a future book focusing on Lucas. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

3 thoughts on “Once A Spy by Mary Jo Putney

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