Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Venus and To Kill A Spy both by Jane Feather
I have been on a romance reading kick and I recently checked Venus and To Kiss a Spy by Jane Feather out at the library. Both are older books that are still in print. Venus was published in 1988 and was re-released by Bantam (http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/results.pperl?x=13&y=7&title_subtitle_auth_isbn=Jane+Feather) in 2003. To Kiss a Spy was published by Bantam in 2002. While very different stories both have elements in common.
Jane Feather set both Venus and To Kiss a Spy in England during turbulent times. Both are filled with real and imaginary characters. To Kiss a Spy is set in the court of Mary Stuart just before her brother Edward dies. Venus is set in the court of Charles II after Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans were overthrown. In both books actual events are woven into the story to provide added tension. Both books are well researched and provide a reveling glimpse into the life and politics of the times.
In To Kiss a Spy widowed Lady Pen Bryanston serves in the court of Princess Mary Tutor. French master spy Owen D’Arcy is given the task of seducing Lady Pen and using her to spy on Princess Mary. Lady Pen is not willing to be seduced but will trade other favors with D’Arcy. Lady Pen is convinced that the child she bore two years ago after her husband died was not still born as her mother-in-law claimed. No one believes her. When she realizes that D’Arcy has the means to find out if her son is still alive she makes a deal to spy in return for his help in finding the truth. As they work together their attraction grows but there are politics and secrets that must be faced. Attractions, secrets, politics, and actual historical events are skillfully woven into the story.
Venus has a very different heroine. Polly Wyat is a 17 year old who lives and works in The Dog a lower class tavern in London. Lord Nicholas Kincaid belongs to a group concerned with the council being given to Charles II. He and another of the group have arranged a secret meeting at The Dog. When Nicholas sees Polly he is awe struck by her looks. When she invites him upstairs he follows. What Nicholas does not realize it that Polly’s uncle uses her to drug and rob wealthy customers of The Dog. Nicholas does not pass out and when Polly helps him escape and guides him to safety he takes her to his home. Polly wants to be an actress and Nicholas sees a way for them to be of use to each other. He cleans her up, teaches her additional skills she will need and acts as her sponsor to get her into the theater. His goal to is bring Polly to the attention of the Duke of Buckingham, pass her on as the Duke’s mistress and use her as a spy. Of course nothing works exactly as planned.
Both Venus and To Kiss a Spy are enjoyable reads. Pick either or both up if you want a good romance.