Fair warning; if a Regency novel also includes stories about the legendary Scarlet Pimpernel, I'm probably going to squee over it. If it's also written by Shana Galen, one of the finest writers in the Regency genre today, it's pretty much a sure-fire winner.
So when I saw Traitor In Her Arms available for review on NetGalley, I pounced to click and then crossed my fingers to be selected.
I was not disappointed. This is a fabulous Regency romp with plenty of drama and deeper themes underlying the fun. The scenes set in Paris were terribly poignant, especially those of the French aristocrats going to the guillotine; Galen captures the pathos of the moment and the atmosphere of a city at war against itself perfectly.
Ramsey, Earl of Sedgewick, is hiding a secret he will go to any lengths to protect. The fact that protecting his secret and protecting Lady Gabrielle McCullough as she undertakes a mission of her own to Paris align, is just fate as far as he is concerned. Until his conscience starts to niggle and he realizes that some things really are worth dying for.
Gabrielle McCullough has a secret too. Left in dire straits by her wastrel husband, she has turned to thievery to keep his creditors from her throat. Specializing in the theft of rare artifacts, when the Scarlet Pimpernel himself recruits her to steal a rare piece that is the only hope for a French countess and her daughter to escape the guillotine, Gabrielle sees little choice but to accept.
This is one point where the story fell down a little for me. Gabrielle has an opportunity in the first few pages of the story to steal a duchess' entire jewelry collection - described as 'a treasure of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds' but she ignores the whole lot in favor of getting the single piece she has been commissioned to steal. Since this single piece still wouldn't clear the whole of her debts, even if she found it, I couldn't comprehend why she didn't grab a handful of the rest. Not doing so left her vulnerable to the creditors who all wanted their pound of flesh. I have no doubt that the villainous 'Mr Pin' would have happily accepted a diamond necklace as part payment.
That point didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story, but it did strain my credulity when it came to other things I was just expected to accept for the story's sake. I found myself examining Gabrielle and Ramsey's decisions critically and thinking that they weren't acting logically. So while I enjoyed the book, I can't really say that I loved it, and therefore I am awarding it 4 stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.