Comment: This is the first story in the duology "Fallen Women" by Loretta Chase and the 10th book total that I have read by her. By now I'm used to her style and vibe, so I was looking for to enjoy this one as well, but it turned out I didn't find this one as great.
In this book we meet James Cordier, the younger son in an aristocratic family who also happens to be a spy for the Crown. In his latest mission he has to apprehend a set of letters owned by the infamous courtesan Francesca Bonnard, who used to be married to an English peer but after their divorce she went to the Continent and has had quite a successful career there. Currently in Venice, in the company of princes and the demimonde too, James must get the letters for Bonnard is rumored to be a traitor and those letters his ex wife has could prove it. However, neither James nor Francesca would ever guess their personalities could be such a perfect match and James didn't think it would be this hard to go through one more job...
The simple idea of this novel has all the ingredients to be a good one, especially for those who like the adventures and larger than life characters in the author's work. Sadly, for me, I wasn't as delighted as I'd have liked because call me puritan, but Francesca's courtesan life was of no appeal to me whatsoever. Of course she doesn't remain so after she meets James and falls for him and vice-versa, but the vibe just wasn't there from the start and I couldn't concentrate on the plot, not being a fan of her occupation...
I might be unfair, after all Francesca chose her profession and she likes the current freedom provided by it but even though I don't wish she were an innocent, I just didn't find much to connect with her and her feelings for James as the story develop happen too quickly -she says so herself. Everything was happening in a flamboyant style, from the characters' actions to their lifestyle to how they would interact. The romance, which I always look for to see how it develops also felt too quick and convenient, considering how they met and the fact James was, at first, playing a role.
The romance could have been better, to me. I don't feel as interested in James and Francesca as individuals, so their relationship didn't feel as special either, compared with couples from other books. There were moments they felt like a caricature and not a possible real person. Of course this is fiction, that is the point, but for me part of the fun is to imagine them and what they do in my head and with these two it just felt like they were exaggerated versions of whom they wanted to embody.
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