Author: Silvia Violet
Publisher: Silvia Violet Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 1777 New York City
The American colonists are fighting for their independence, but the battlefield is not the only place to wage war. When General Washington’s head of intelligence asks Captain Jack West to spy on the British in New York, Jack agrees, despite reservations about this ungentlemanly pursuit.
Jack’s contact in the city recruits bookshop owner Elias Ashfield, an impeccably dressed sensualist who flaunts his desire for both men and women and seeks a place in high society. Jack longs for a simple life guided by clear principles. Eli is a risk-taker who knows how to get what he wants. And he wants Jack in his bed.
Events in Jack’s past have made him fearful of acting on his secret craving for a man’s touch, but Eli intrigues Jack as much as he infuriates him. As Jack and Eli search for the information the rebel army needs, they realize there’s more between them than mere lust. But finding a way to be together may prove more difficult than defeating the British Empire.
Review: A novel set during the American Revolution? Complete with spies, espionage, danger, deceit and oh yeah… conflicted men? Count me in! I appreciate all of the research that makes such a project authentic.
The beginning of this book sucked me in. The detailing of the revolutionary troop morale, movements and difficulties was fascinating; as were Jack’s moral dilemmas. I felt as though I were right there in the streets of New York and the trenches of the surrounding countryside. Eli and Jack both presented as an interesting, multi-layered characters, complete with hidden, dark backstories. I just knew when the two men met there was bound to be tension and passion galore, and there was.
Captain Jack West is a fiercely dedicated patriot in the fight against the British. Unfortunately, he’s also an injured man, whose lame leg has him sidelined from duty. When the opportunity – and the push from superiors – arises for him to become a spy in New York, he agrees quite reluctantly.
Eli uses his book shop, and his family name, as a front for running black market goods and writing seditious papers. He is clever, conniving and has no qualms using his bed and various other beds in New York to broker deals. Eli is an equal opportunity bed partner – men and women all suit him fine. When he’s approached by Constance, a wealthy widow, to aid in a group spying on the British, he leaps on board.
The intrigue present in the circle of spies and counter-spies in the story is very cleverly done. The duplicitous nature of some highly positioned people, including the sex for information even among the upper class, certainly was eye opening and deliciously scandalous to read. Constance was a welcome female character. Intelligent, inspired, brave and determined. She was actually a key character in that she fronted the spy ring, and in addition to her independence and strength, I like how she befriended both Jack and Eli and did her best to help facilitate a relationship between the men.
I found both Jack and Eli intriguing as individuals and I wanted them each to find personal satisfaction with their lives, as well as a life which included each other. When they met, their initial attraction to one another was understandable, most especially on Eli’s part since he had such an irrepressible libido. Jack, though drawn to Eli, was painfully aware of the illegality of having sex with him. He was also plagued by demons from his past screaming that such behavior was immoral, and he was also feeling disheartened and emasculated by his injury and banishment from active duty. Eli’s immediate and insistent pursuit of Jack actually rubbed me the wrong way. I think because it happened without much build-up of any type of relationship between them, and Eli was also aware of Jack’s reluctance. On the other hand, the hard press (ahem) was typical and plausible Eli. While their circumstances and the time period believably made a romance difficult, I never did quite feel convinced that what Jack and Eli were feeling was love. This was a rather big obstacle for me, and I look forward to being thoroughly convinced in their next story.
Predictable this story is not. The author took what are arguably some chances with Eli’s behavior in one section of the story, however I will say again, he acted plausibly if not popularly. There was a good deal of suspense in the latter part of the story as the group’s plans began to unravel. I found myself shocked and surprised by some of the revelations, both in general and in what Jack and Eli disclosed to one another. And that’s a good thing! Surprise me authors, please! I appreciate how complex issues were not quickly or miraculously resolved. There is pain, there is regret, there is uncertainty. However, there is also healing, loyalty, and hope.