I am pleased to welcome author Ella Quinn on my blog today. I will be posting a review of her latest book, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh
Publication date: November 7, 2013
Series: The Marriage Game #2
This is a rather complex story with interwoven romance (triple, in fact) and because of all the secrets that, albeit big, are revealed early on to the readers, I will strive to keep this review spoiler-free.
Spies, smugglers, and secrets...Sebastian, Baron Rutherford, had experienced a logical fallacy. That must have been why he had always believed Miss Anna Marsh would wait for him as he waited for her to get older so he can propose. After several seasons and Anna no longer at the age of a young debutante, he finally proposes, but gets rejected. The reason? Sebastian was so careful in pretending to form an attachment to Lady Phoebe (The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, The Marriage Game #1) that Anna thought she was his second choice, and that will never do for her, because she is living a secret life controlling a gang of smugglers that she inherited from her brother, Harry. And now, due to a treasonous ploy to smuggle French spies into England, Anna is keen to return to her family home just as Sebastian is determined to seduce Anna into becoming his wife, and also discover the head of the smuggling ring as a renowned spy for the Home Office. Add into the mix two other character plots, and this becomes a fantastically engaging tale that is both complex, yet seamlessly woven into the Regency era.
Due to this unique setup of two people encountering an impasse in their relationship, the story was never meant to showcase the heady passions of two strangers falling in love, but written rather like a more sedate walk through the woods, through which the characters come to better understand what they wish from each other, and the importance of compromise and communication in their relationship. For Anna, her agreeing to marry Sebastian is only under the condition that he accepts all of her, but in truth, he only needed to learn how to live with her myriad faces. The brilliant, independent, free-thinker was always there, underneath a calm and logical exterior, wanting to break out just as her passions yearned to be given an outlet as well. As Sebastian had loved Anna for a long time, albeit belatedly realized, he needed to adjust his male-era perspective to allow Anna's independence, and concede to her. Just like a modern-day marriage. That is perhaps the most profound aspect of this historical, to tell a story between two people on the edge of love who have never known marriage. The majority of historical romance are interested in the process of falling in love, rather in what comes afterwards -- the rocky way to understanding and accepting each other in daily living, away from the distractions of lust and desire. To that end, Ella Quinn has done a fabulous job penning a most unique and interesting story with two captivating characters, who are just a little bit away from being together.
The secondary characters, i.e., the multiple stories, are very interesting as well not only for their secrecy, but also for their relations to the Anna and Sebastian as well as the plot. When all is complete, the plot seems like a complex web of relationships and events, yet all is condensed within one small circle that moves at a fast pace so readers would never feel overwhelmed by the multiple character stories, nor bored by the interspersed relationship catalysts between the smuggler side plot. I say it's a side plot because as we all know, in Romance, the main plot is always that of the love between the hero and heroine.
Kudos goes to the author for her masterful command of the English language. From accents to "proper" speech, all the speech and behaviors provide a taste of the Regency era without bombarding the reader with historical and Regency terminology. I especially liked the research done for smugglers of the era, ideal locations for their caves, and a plethora of other tiny details that normally escape the notice of readers but without which the story would seem bland, less rich in the historical ambiance that allows it such acclaim. The story, the plot, and the characters are all simple fantastic; perhaps slightly different from what a reader might expect, but akin to a nice surprise found on a Christmas day of gift-opening. For me, it was certainly a gift I am thankful for and enjoyed greatly.
*Review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4.5 tulips
Ella Quinn is giving away an e-copy of The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh to a lucky commenter!