Kate Noble
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Release Date
March 2010
Historical Romance

Phillippa Benning is the unrivaled beauty of the Season. But when another lady challenges her for a marquis's attentions, Phillippa entices him to a secret rendezvous-only to stumble upon The Blue Raven, England's most famous spy, lurking at the site of her planned tryst.

The Blue Raven has uncovered an enemy plot directed at upcoming society functions, but he's unable to infiltrate London society. Phillippa makes an offer: in exchange for entrée among the ton, he agrees to have his true identity revealed at the Benning Ball-guaranteeing her unrivaled notoriety. As the danger draws closer, the mysterious spy and Phillippa give in to mutual desire. But when the game turns deadly, betrayal waits around the corner, and Phillippa must decide once and for all-is it the myth that captured her heart, or the man?

Book Review by Silver (reviewer)
Aug 24, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
175 people found the following review helpful
Philippa Benning is undoubtedly the darling of the ton, but she has to be on guard lest her arch nemesis, Lady Jane Cummings, steals the title away from her. Things come to a head when both women tried to win the affections of the Marquis of Broughton.

In these first few chapters, Philippa comes across as a shallow, society lady who enjoys playing "the game" and who would do anything to come out on top. At this stage, I am of two minds about her. One is that I didn't like her, as I grow tired with yet another description of the setting, the gowns, etc, as of course, only Philippa would notice. In this, her thoughts and actions are in tune with her character. On the other hand, Philippa is such a refreshing change from the rest of historical England's heroines (at least, those books that I've read so far, where the women never aspired to be Society darlings) that I felt compelled to read on. I did debate whether I should stop, but another reason that made me continue turning the pages is that I wanted to meet the hero and see what stuff he's made of!

So then, Philippa stumbles upon a mysterious stranger who she inferred from an eavesdropped convesation is the Blue Raven, a hero of the land, and she realizes she has the perfect trump card in her hand. If she could reveal the identity of the Blue Raven at the annual Benning ball, her place in Society would be secure, hence, she makes a bargain with him. In exchange for what she wanted, she would help him gain entry into the big Society events, which he needed as part of his investigation into French treachery. Little did she suspect that she would be throwing her heart into the bargain...

As the story progressed, I find myself liking Philippa more and more, for her courage, her sense of adventure and for her innate desire to do what's right, at any cost to herself and her pride. Of course, concern for Marcus Worth has a big influence in her decisions. Another thing I must applaud the author for is the believability of Philippa's character. She remains true to herself, even until the end. Essentially, she is still the same Philippa Benning, still aspires to continue to hold the title of Society's darling, but she has been tempered by love. I like that she didn't become a completely different person when touched by love as had happened in some books.

She is also understandably confused and torn about her feelings for Marcus, as he is a nobody, while the Marquis of Broughton is the catch of the Season. Yet, in true Philippa fashion, when she makes up her mind about something, nothing and no one will stop her in the way of getting it.

Marcus Worth is a government spy, big, bad and dangerous, and yet his interactions with Philippa are rather sweet. Okay, I'm lying. Marcus comes across as a gentle, thoughtful man with a wide streak of patriotism and who wouldn't hurt a fly. A typical nice guy. And he is exactly what the competitive Philippa needs. Marcus is also smart and caring of Philippa, and he knows he is irresistibly attracted to Philippa, no matter how torn up he is about it, because he knows he is nothing in Society, and he has nothing to offer Philippa. Yet, he can't help his feelings for her, and when her safety is threatened, he becomes big, bad and dangerous, and nothing is going to stop him from keeping her safe.

Nothing was revealed about Philippa's long-standing feud with Jane, and there was also a hint that there could be more people involved in the French treachery that Marcus was investigating. I hope there will be more books in this series, as Kate Noble's stories are a joy to read, and her characters engaging. For sure, I'll be checking out The Summer of You and an earlier novel, Compromised, which features a viscount who is in love with a woman but engaged to her sister.
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