The Scarlet Spy Review
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For the first time in her life, Sofia has finally found a place where she belongs. When she was a young girl, Lord Lynsley found her on the streets and brought her to Mrs. Merlin’s Academy for Select Young Ladies. Since then, she’s had the very best training in everything from sword fighting to ballroom dancing. And now she’s a Merlin—one of England’s secret weapons.

Sofia’s two closest friends at the Academy have already left on missions of their own, and now it’s Sofia’s turn. Recently, the grandson of the Duke of Sterling was found dead of an opium overdose—but the duke is convinced that his grandson’s death wasn’t just an accident. Sofia’s job is to work her way into London’s high society disguised as a young Italian widow and uncover the truth.

The mission is a dangerous one—because the killer could be anywhere. But Sofia’s more concerned about Lord Deverill Osborne, the London playboy who’s asked to introduce her into London society—because her instant attraction to him could prove to be a deadly distraction.

Filled with intrigue, mystery, and (of course!) romance, this period drama offers a little bit of something for every chick lit fan. It’s a charming and well-written adventure, sprinkled with 19th-century language and other period-appropriate details—but not to the point that it feels forced. Instead, Pickens carefully sets the tone without making Sofia’s surroundings distracting.

The Scarlet Spy is dreamy and almost fairy-tale-like—but without all of the aggravating damsel-in-distress business. Sure, Sofia sometimes needs a little bit of help—but, more often than not, she’s the one doing the rescuing. She’s smart and strong and determined, and she can take care of herself (and those around her). At the same time, though, she’s not an all-powerful she-warrior, who goes into the most ridiculous of situations armed with only her wits and a hairpin. She’s bold yet cautious. She’s tough, but she’s sometimes scared. And she has a sensitive side that makes her all the more likeable.

The story, too, hints at a bit more depth (and adventure) than the average chick lit. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t do much more than hint. After all, this is, first and foremost, a romance—which means that Sofia’s mission sometimes takes a backseat to her shaky relationship with Lord Osborne. So while the mystery is there—and the story offers a bit of action and suspense—it’s never fully developed.

Still, The Scarlet Spy is an enjoyable romantic adventure. The characters are likeable, the romance is light but sometimes steamy, and that added touch of intrigue and suspense only adds to the fun.

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