Twelfth Night Secrets by Jane Feather

Summary from

A touching and sexy Christmas-themed historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather in which a young woman must carry out a spy mission against the man she loves in honor of her recently deceased brother.

Lady Harriet Devere travels to Oxfordshire with her two younger siblings for their annual family holiday gathering. Now orphaned, the trio has recently lost their eldest brother Nicholas, who died serving his country in battle. Before his death, Nicholas had entrusted Harriet with a secret: he was working as a British spy, recruited to follow in their father’s footsteps. Nicholas uses Harriet as an accomplice, expecting her to relay simple messages to his contacts while he was abroad. After his death, Harriet is suddenly asked to fulfill a request much more in-depth than those of the past.
Harriet must keep an eye on Julius Forsythe, Earl of Marbury, who, while also a spy for the British, is believed to be a double agent also working for the French. Harriet is expected to follow his every move to determine his status as a traitor. But before long, she begins to admire the Earl, and her romantic feelings are reciprocated. As the adventure unfolds, Harriet must do her best to honor the wish of her dearly loved brother, while attempting to keep the man she loves from harm.

An okay but quick romance read without any real conflict/resolution. The story primarily revolves around Lady Harriet and her endeavor to discover Lord Marbury’s involvement in her brother’s death, and secondarily, his possible role as a traitor to the British Crown.  It’s not a well-balanced romance as we spend the majority of the word count focusing on Harriet’s conflicting feelings about his attraction and status as a possible traitor/brother-killer. She’s drawn to Marbury’s thoughtfulness, “deep eyes,” and commanding nature. In turn, he’s drawn in by her beauty, intelligence and just-something-about-her-that-is-never-really-elaborated-on. The actual romance between the two is neither compelling nor convincing and is really only present since a romantic pairing is sort of a deal breaker for a romance novel. The reveal of Marbury’s involvement is rushed and anticlimactic, with Harriet’s reaction/acceptance of it just as bad.

2/5 Hoots

2 Chili peppers? (This more Royal’s thing)

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