Format: .mobi (Provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: March 4, 2013
Careful, gentlemen-there is more to this courtesan than meets the eye
What better disguise for a secret agent than that of a courtesan? Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm, is a spy working for the Crown to uncover a traitor.
Andrew Booth-Payne, Earl of Darlington, wants to hate Lily for taking up with his father, but something about Lily intrigues him.
When he discovers there is more to her flirtation than greed, he knows he must help her uncover a traitor. Even if that traitor is his own father.
The hunt for a dangerous traitor and the secret documents they have continues with Sapphires are an Earl's Best Friend and focuses on Lily Dawson, otherwise known as The Countess of Charm. Appearances can be and are deceiving, right from the start it's clear that the stakes are high.
I loved the idea of this series, three famous courtesans that weren't at all what they appeared and each one getting a chance at true happiness in the midst of murders, mystery and general mayhem so I was a little sad to start reading this third and last book in the series.
The twists and turns in the plot were fun and easy to follow and the pace of the book was steady but not dull. All the intrigue and mystery served to create a tension buildup that kept me reading until the very end. I just can't resist a murder/conspiracy story and I wasn't disappointed with the revelations and the ending. The main characters were definitely something though.
Lily was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't dislike her but I felt she didn't live up to the hype that was created around her at the end of If You Give a Rake a Ruby. Here I was expecting this femme fatale, super kick ass spy and she just... Wasn't. Correct me if I'm wrong but Lily was supposed to have experience with espionage and yet she kept making ridiculous rookie mistakes that made her look like an inept, incompetent female. It was like the woman didn't know the meaning of "sneaky" and "stealthy." Lily didn't lack for courage though and she did know how to physically defend herself against her enemies but more often than not, she placed herself under suspicion with several other characters. As a spy she was completely unconvincing and it was more luck than skill that kept her alive. Still, Lily was a likable character, she was intelligent, caring and selfless where Andrew (Slight Spoiler for those who haven't read the previous books: Andrew was convinced he was in love with Juliette, Lily's friend and the heroine of When You Give a Duke a Diamond) was concerned which I admired. I don't think I would have been comfortable with that if I had been Lily. I also admired her strong will to resist Andrew. I loved that she didn't fall at his feet at the first show of attention he gave her. She may have feelings for him but she doesn't allow her feelings to manipulate her or turn her into a weak woman around him.
I wasn't sure what to think about Andrew at first. When he appeared in the first book I felt he was immature and really didn't pay all that much attention to him. He was the typical spoiled, selfish titled man so I quickly wrote him off but now, in Sapphires are an Earl's Best Friend he has really grown up and is a wiser, more responsible version of himself. Since his mother's death, he's so focused on doing the right thing and proving that he isn't worthless that it's almost as if he's a totally different character. I liked the new Andrew better and with the new Andrew I saw how he and Lily made a better match than before. Lily keeps Andrew from becoming a stuffy, overbearing future duke and he keeps Lily from getting into too much trouble.
My only other complaint was that Lilly and Andrew spent more time chasing and then avoiding each other that I felt they didn't have enough time to really get to know each other. Their chemistry took forever reach a point where I as a reader could feel it. I could see that they were a good match and that there was more than just Lily's affection between them but I would have liked to have seen them grow as a couple more than they actually did.
With Lily being the last of the Jewels of the Ton to have her happy ending, I am curious to see where author Shana Galen will take readers next. I have enjoyed her books for a little over a year now and continue to smile, laugh and sigh over the stories that she creates. I do hope she'll write more spy romances as I do love her Lord and Lady Spy series.
Final Verdict: While Sapphires are an Earl's Best Friend did let me down in the spy department and a bit in the relationship area, Lily was a strong female character in a time where women were treated as and acted the part of useless arm ornaments. The dialogue was witty and fun, so was the storyline and I would recommend this book to historical romance fans.