Format: Print copy (purchased)
Release Date: January 2, 2008
It isn't easy moving about Society dressed like a dandy-especially when one is a ruthless spy. But that's precisely the latest mission for Liar's Club agent Dalton Montmorecy. Dalton is posing as Sir Thorogood, the elusive cartoonist whose scathing political caricatures have all of London abuzz. The true identity of Sir Thorogood is a mystery, and Dalton hopes that impersonating him will flush out the real menace before his cartoons do further damage to the Crown. Now, if Dalton could only find a way to get the irksome, yet oddly appealing widow, Clara Simpson, off his trail...
When Clara meets Sir Thorogood at a ball, she's certain he is an impostor-because she's the true Sir Thorogood. Secretly penning the cartoons under the frothy nom de plume, Clara hopes to save enough money so that she can leave her in-laws and find a new residence. Now she is determined to reveal an imposter's identity-and that means doing some undercover work herself. But pretending to be someone you're not has a funny way of making a woman do things she wouldn't ordinarily dream of-even if it drives her straight into the arms of her devilishly handsome adversary!
I know I keep saying this but I love historical romances with spies yet there are only a handful of them that I will re-read over and over. The Imposter by Celeste Bradley is one of them.
Actually, the entire Liar's Club series as well as the spin off series, The Royal Four are all worth second, third and even more reads. Exciting and bold, both series are connected by one villain and while each book can be read as a stand alone, it's obviously better if you read both series.
The Imposter is the second book in the Liar's Club series and takes two previously established characters who seem to be total opposites and tosses them into a dangerous game of secrets, betrayal and passion.
Dalton and Clara (Up until now, this is the only "Dalton" I've come across, just a FYI) are both pretending to be someone they're not and for similar reasons. This leads to some very funny scenes between the two, including some unintentional maiming of one's um, privates. The dialogue is quick, witty and entertaining, it should be at least on Clara's part, she is the cartoonist Dalton is masquerading as, though he doesn't know it. Then again, as a spy, Dalton knows how to think on his feet and bantering with Clara all while playing a role takes some serious intelligence. That's why I love these two. While Dalton in the experienced spy and educated gentleman, Clara is never in his intellectual shadow, she's just as intelligent (if not more in some scenes) and brave as he is.
While they may sound perfect, they're not. Dalton for all his polish and his title of Lord Etheridge is terribly lonely with a reputation as a somber, reclusive and sometimes cold fish of a man. Clara is a talented widow forced to live under her in-laws' thumbs and only dream of a home of her own and freedom. I loved the layers both these characters had, they kept me guessing as to who they really were under the titles and society's expectations of them.
What makes the Liar's Club characters work so well for me is that they're not all gentlemen of rank and fortune. They members of the club come from every level of London society, which made more sense to me than if they were all second sons of titled noblemen. What better way to infiltrate organizations than by using a wide array of people? Cooks, butlers, pickpockets, gamblers, soldiers, maids and yes, even the occasional Earl. There was no one that the Liars couldn't use and that was totally believable.
The Imposter also introduces Rose, a young housemaid from the house next to Clara's in laws with whom Clara builds a fragile but loyal friendship with. Rose also helps Clara with a bit of spying but I won't reveal how. Pay attention to Rose as she makes an intresting transition from maid to... Well you'll have to read the book to find out.
Of course, a romance fan probably wants to know about those love scenes between Dalton and Clara right? Well, the attraction is there, it takes a while to grow but when it does, wow! Those two just burn for each other even as they remain clueless to each others' true identities. My favorite scene? Well there's an attic scene that takes place after the truth is revealed that even now makes me want to reach for a fan.
Final Verdict: The Imposter took my interest in book one, built it with a humorous, suspenseful, action packed and passion filled story that not only left me in a state of book bliss, but had me desperate to read the next book in the series.