CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 30. . . .April 8, 2016
As 19th century ladies go, Miss. Juliana Telford is quite an unusual character. Vastly more interested in science and research pertaining to the coccinellidae (lady beetle) than in the institution of marriage, she quickly becomes the sore thumb of her social-climbing family. Juliana’s neurotic aunt is less than enthusiastic about Juliana’s propensity for activities she deems “inappropriate” for a young lady to partake of. Aunt Phyllis Reeves forbids her niece from leaving the premises unaccompanied during her time spent visiting the Reeves’ estate. It is for this reason that Juliana insists upon secrecy from Spencer, a gallant young gentleman who saves her from an untimely demise during a secret unaccompanied excursion from the estate.
Upon meeting the handsome young Spencer on a cliff over the sea, Juliana is immediately drawn to him. Unbeknownst to her, Spencer is a spy for the War Office, sent to hunt down a traitor in the local environs. After exchanging pleasantries, Juliana and Spencer find themselves discussing the topic of matrimony and discover that they share an aversion to the idea of marriage (initially).
The Pyebalds, close family friends of the Reeves, join the family on a voyage to London for a season of gallantry and glamourous affairs. Spencer and his right-hand man follow the families to the city. Unfortunately, it is only a short time before Spencer ascertains that the suspected traitor is likely a member of the Reeves or Pyebald family. This knowledge presents him with a great conundrum given his growing feelings for Juliana (which have progressed with each subsequent secret meeting on the cliff). Juliana, her cousin, and Miss. Pyebald are meant to be seeking suitors whilst spending the season in the city; however, Juliana has other plans and spends her time shopping her research on the lady beetle around London by visiting prospective publishers.
During this time, the lecherous son of the Pyebald family makes no secret of his ill-intentioned attraction to Juliana and eventually resorts to abducting her with plans to force marriage upon her. A great chase ensues, and Juliana is saved by Spencer (who, very shortly before this, determined that the traitors were, in fact, mother and daughter Pyebald). At the closing of the story, Spencer and Juliana profess their love for one another and decide that marriage is, in fact, not such a bad idea after all.
Love, Lies and Spies will appeal to Jane Austin enthusiasts and lovers of historical romance. That said, the meandering storyline and the use of dated English vocabulary may not make the book a great hit with teens. The plot plods along with a great deal of dialogue in relation to action. Those segments of the story pertaining to the war may be challenging (or too dry) for many teens to follow. This book would be better suited to readers of new adult fiction than to readers of young adult fiction.
Amy Trepanier is the Teen Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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