If you hadn't guessed, I read a lot of romance novels. I don't watch television except for the occasional HGTV binge and I need something brainless with a happily-ever-after ending. Or at least a chance for happy but interesting-ever-after ending.
Celeste Bradley was recommended to me by an estimable branch manager friend over crepes one evening. After wading through (yesterday evening's reading) a collection of short stories, I was ready for one of her longer works.
One Night With a Spy is part of a series of called "The Royal Four," which is built around the idea of the King of England having four advisers who tell him the truth and pretty much seem to run the country.
The plot introduces, Julia, a young woman married to a MUCH older man who is part of the Royal Four. In his final years, her husband teaches her about the Royal Four and, following an accident that leaves him mostly incapacitated (it sounds like a stroke), she pretty much takes over. After his death she confronts his confederates to take his place---to their surprise and concern. To evaluate her they send in a very handsome young man who is being groomed to join the four also. However, they didn't plan on an outsider who is also trying to kill her.
Bradley has Julia as a bright and imaginative young woman. She also has her as one of the more sexually frustrated and imaginative widows that I've read in a long time. Before taking on Royal 4 business, Julia wrote copious diaries of fantasies. Considering her experience is supposed to be a man over the age of sixty when he married her, even with a low upbringing (which she had), it seemed a little excessively detailed. Putting that aside, Julia's pretty self-sufficient, and that's nice. She's interested in Marcus, the one sent to spy upon her, but she doesn't let that get in the way of her being a functional person. Fantasies aside, Bradley did an excellent job of moving along a very interesting story.
The fun side note is Julia's upbringing in a traveling fair troupe, which means that her butler likes to hang upside down from the chandeliers and her footmen are acrobats that like to do various stunts. It adds some light humor that is enjoyable.
Looking forward to seeing what else she's written. Back to tormenting the cat with a ribbon....she's much neglected because her mommy is out of town.