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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: A Spring Deception by Jess Michaels

The second book in the Seasons series was sweet and likable but not what I was used to from this author.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: September 9, 2016

Miss Celia Fitzgilbert’s grandfather has decreed she must marry a man with a title or he’ll never reveal her mysterious father’s identity. But her engagement to an Earl was already broken, leaving her steeped in scandal. She has all but given up until the reclusive Duke of Clairemont returns to Society and sweeps her off her feet, a potential solution to all her problems.

But things are not so simple for the duke. Aiden is not comfortable with his position in Society, perhaps because he is a fraud. In truth, Clairemont died months ago and the man playing him is a spy, bent on uncovering a dangerous secret. A flirtation with Celia, meant to help him fit in, quickly turns very real. But can Celia recover when the lies come out? And can Aiden keep them both alive long enough to even consider a future?

With the events of the previous book, I’m so glad Celia didn’t have to wait long for her story. Celia was engaged to an Earl but that engagement ended up broken when the two were forced to admit they wouldn’t suit. Now Celia’s reputation is on shaky ground and her grandfather has threatened to withhold the identity of her father unless she marries a man with a title. Her prospects look hopeless until she meets the mysterious Duke of Clairemont and the two form an instant connection.

Except Aiden isn’t really the Duke of Clairemont. The real duke died months before and Aiden is a spy trying to solve a dangerous secret. When the truth comes out, not only is Celia’s chance for answers gone, but what’s left of her reputation.

I love a good historical spy romance and Jess Michaels definitely hit that mark with A Spring Deception. I was swept up in the romance and the mystery from the very first page and I just couldn’t do anything else until I found out who the villains were and what they were up to, I just had one complaint that may or may not make a difference to other readers.

Aiden had his work cut out for him. He may have been a good spy, one of the best even but he had such a vulnerable streak to him because of his humble origins that made him an ideal hero for the story. He was a spy with a conscience, which made a difference in the way he handled his mission. I liked the inner conflict he experienced almost from the moment he met Celia. He was inherently good and didn’t like using someone innocent no matter what the reason. Maybe that made him a liability as a spy but I like tortured heroes, especially when they’re the ones torturing themselves, it makes them less than perfect and gives them the opportunity to be more than just a stud muffin who swoops in and saves the day.

Celia finally got a chance to show that she wasn’t a title hunter, which was revealed in the previous book but A Spring Deception gave her the chance to show that she was just as kind and likable as her sister Rosalinde. I admit, I had my doubts about Celia at first. Her desperation to know the name of her father made her unpredictable. Just how far would she go to get that information? It was interesting to see if Celia would choose the information about her past or move on to a future with a man she didn’t know was lying to her. I think I changed my mind about Celia about halfway through the book. I know, that’s a bit of a long time but I’m always tougher on heroines for some reason. Anyway, Celia was a likable character and she did wear her heart on her sleeve.

One thing that was missing in A Spring Deception was the heat level. Every time I’ve read a Jess Michaels book there’s scorching chemistry and heat between the characters. I’ve come to associate and expect the erotic aspect of her stories. That was absent in this story and longtime fans of Michaels’ books will feel that absence. I know I did and while it didn’t make the story any less enjoyable, I think the lack of heat is what made me take so long to believe in them as a couple. Emotion is the foundation and the backbone of a romance but the heat? That’s the flesh and blood of it and you really can’t have one without the other.

Final Verdict: I liked the action, mystery, and suspense of A Spring Deception, the romance between Aiden and Celia was sweet but the lack of heat that is usually present in Michaels’ books made the romance fall a little flat in my eyes.

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