Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Review: Emma Jensen’s Entwined – Wonderful 1st in Regency Series!

This is the first in a historical trilogy that involves spies for England during the wars on the Continent in the Regency period, though most of it takes place in the British Isles. There were 10 spies to begin with ("the Ten"). Some were nobility.

ENTWINED begins in 1810 in Lisbon, as Nathan Paget, Viscount Oriel, one of the Ten, is discussing the situation in Europe with his close friend Gabriel Loudon, Lord Rievaulx, also a member of the Ten. Nathan is preparing to return to England the next day to wed a woman they both wanted. But the next morning, they are attacked.
As he is losing consciousness, Nathan sees Rievaulx hit in the chest, and believes him dead. A year later, in 1811, Nathan has returned to his country home in Hertfordshire alone, his fiancé having changed her mind. He carries on one-way conversations with his dead friend, Gabriel, and still suffers from a sword wound to his thigh as he attempts to live a normal, if secluded, life. Then his former superior arrives to tell him someone is killing the Ten one by one. Supposedly, five are now dead. His supervisor asks Nathan for help, urging him to return to London.

Meanwhile, a family of Scots from the Isle of Skye has moved onto Nathan's lands. He hires the father, James MacLeod, to be his secretary. Over the next 6 months, Nathan learns all about MacLeod's five children, including the oldest, 25-year-old intelligent, plain Isobel, who the father credits with keeping the family together. When James MacLeod steals a bag of gold coins from Nathan and Isobel tries to return it, Nathan meets the honest, candid and observant young woman. She realizes what no one else has: Nathan is almost completely blind. (It wasn't only his leg that was injured; he took a hit to the head.) Nathan decides he will allow Isobel's father to go free and provide for Isobel's family if only he can have one thing--her. He wants more than a secretary, however.

The hero is a wonderful combination of gentleman warrior and a brooding, wounded, aristocratic beast. Noble and kind of heart, you can't help but love Nathan for loving Isobel's character, which is courageous, honest and giving. There is something wildly attractive about a man who wants a woman from the first time he meets her and then continues to always believe the best about her. Isn't that what we all want? The heroine, Isobel, is the caretaker for her family, dragging them out of one predicament or another. There isn't anything she won't do for them. And Nathan knows it. When offered the choice between continued poverty for them and perhaps jail for her father, and serving the strange Viscount Oriel, she chooses the latter.

Jensen writes very well with witty, often funny dialog, a great plot and well developed characters. This fascinating story moves along at a good clip. I wasn't half way through it when I was looking online for the rest in what I was sure had to be a series. There are two more: FALLEN and MOONLIT, both written years after ENTWINED, and each about another member of the Ten.

I have read all three and can recommend them without reservation. I think you'll like them as much as I did.

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