Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review–Beauty and the Spymaster by Moriah Densley


Expected publication: May 13th 2014 by esKape Press

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It's a slow day for Helena Duncombe if she's not scandalizing the ton with her daring fashions and sharp wit. Enjoying herself makes it easier to hide a dark reality. A tragic turn of events forces her to take refuge in the last place on earth she belongs: a church. Julian Grey wants everyone to believe he's a quiet country vicar, but Helena discovers his secret. He never expected her to help catch a traitor to the crown, and he's even more shocked to discover she has quite a talent for it. But he's not the only one with a claim on Helena...

(Blurb from Goodreads)

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I've made absolutely no secret of the fact that I think Moriah Densley could quite possibly rival Julie Garwood or Kathleen Woodiwiss in the historical romance genre. So bear with me as I flesh out this review because it is a pip and a half to write. (Hey, I can clean up my language when company's coming.) While this book is not officially part of Moriah's extremely popular Rougemont series, it is definitely on the periphery. Annnnnd since this is a spoiler free zone, I am in the position of tiptoeing around some rather pertinent details. While BatS can certainly be read as a standalone, it will be exponentially better if you read Song for Sophia first. They run the course of the same time frame and intersect at points. Now that the technical aspects are taken care of let me get my fan girl on.

( I know,  I DO love me some Winchesters)

I knew the bare bones of Helena’s story, but I had NO idea how incredibly STRONG she was. I will be the first to raise my judgmental hand, I had a certain picture of her in my mind because of what I knew from Song for Sophia. Ugh, I am shamed and appalled at my rush to judgment. One of the first signs I look for in whether or not I am going to like an author is how fast she puts me in empathy with a character. I’m not talking about first person POV (yuck, bleh!), I’m talking about being able to connect the person I am with the character the author has created. Moriah Densley is an absolute MASTER at this.

I knew going in that the book was under 175 pages, but I was still shocked at how quickly it read. Maybe because I was dying for this story, but also because of the quality content. Maybe because it offered the possibility of hope to people who had all but quit and lived only for doing the right thing for what they loved. I could get all sappy and philosophical about this story or I could just say Dayam! This woman can write a romance. Hell, she could probably write fortune cookies and I'd gain 150 pounds. At the end of each book, I am left satisfied yet wanting. That my dears is the true hallmark of what I look for in my authors. Once again Ms. Densley, bravissima.

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Moriah Densley sees nothing odd at all about keeping both a violin case and a range bag stuffed with pistols in the back seat of her car. They hold up the stack of books in the middle, of course. She enjoys writing about Victorians, assassins, and geeks. Her muses are summoned by the smell of chocolate, usually at odd hours of the night. By day her alter ego is your friendly neighborhood music teacher. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband, four children, and two possibly brain-damaged cats. Published in historical and paranormal romance, Moriah has a Master's degree in music, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart finalist, 2012 National Reader's Choice Award winner in historical romance and '12 NRCA "Best First Book" finalist.


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Anonymous said...

Sebella! This is my first review of Beauty and the Spymaster (BATS!), and it's lovely! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this thoughtful review. You're so kind. And you made my day!

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

Oh I'll so have to try her. Sounds like one I'd enjoy :) Thank ya!