Currently Reading: “Winter Garden” by Adele Ashworth

5 Sep

Though a celebrated French beauty in 1849, Madeleine DuMais’s cleverness is her greatest asset — and one she puts to good use as a spy for the British. When her expertise is needed in the south of England to break up a smuggling ring, Madeleine willingly puts her life on hold to help the crown…

Arriving in the quaint resort town of Winter Garden, Madeleine meets her partner in subterfuge. Thomas Blackwood is unlike any man she has ever met. His quiet confidence and mysterious intensity send shivers of pleasure coursing through her … shivers that slowly melt into a desperate passion. As duty gives way to desire, surrender holds its reward. And Madeleine will never recover from the touch of Thomas’s hands on her body — and the touch of his heart on her soul…

Although Winter Garden involves spies, it’s one of those books I’ve wanted to read for a very long time. Thanks to a friend I finally got the chance.

I’m five chapters in and although I like the writing, the spy thing is already getting to me. You see, Madeline arrives in Winter Garden to help break up a smuggling ring but without a really thought-out cover to explain her arrival/presence or any thought about how much talk her living alone with a man would create (which very probably could exclude them from society there, making their task much more difficult IMO). She comes to Thomas’s house and they are like “Hmm, what should we say why you’re here…” They decide that she should pose as the translator of his memoirs. So far, so good but of course this doesn’t stifle the talk about them being involved with each other on a much more personal basis. My problem is that I’d thought as spies they wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to themselves but…whatever.

Then Madeline is invited to tea and goes to great lengths to establish herself as a respectable woman. She says she’s the widow of a tea trader whose family goes back several generations in that business, the marriage was of course arranged, and so on. Then at another invitation she goes and says that her mother was an actress, addicted to opium, and that the last time Madeline saw her was several years ago. Huh? How does she imagine that fits with what she told the other women? … But never mind. At least she managed to get the better over the rudeness of her hostess who is a rather nasty piece of work and also an opium addict, right?

As an aside and totally unrelated, what’s up with worrying that Thomas doesn’t notice her as a woman several times but stating near the end of chapter one that she was certain he did notice her as a woman?

Okay, it’s not that I don’t like the novel so far. In fact, I like the writing for example, and I enjoy the intense attraction between Madeline and Thomas and that Madeline seems to be a sexually confident woman, but this spy thing is not working for me so far.

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5 Responses to “Currently Reading: “Winter Garden” by Adele Ashworth”

  1. Jace Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    After all the hype, I was underwhelmed by this story. 😦 That’s all I can say. The heroine didn’t seem particularly smart or wily for a spy. The love story was just ok. This is another case of me not agreeing with the majority about how great a book is.

  2. Taja Monday, September 6, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Jace – I’m halfway through now. The spy element and the reason why Madeline and Thomas stay in the same house definitely don’t work for me. Sadly, it affects my enjoyment of all the rest. 😦 I think my opinion will match more your opinion rather than the majority when I’m finished reading it.

  3. nath Friday, September 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    LOL, was it this book that you want to read or just any work by Ms Ashworth? I’ve yet to try this author, although I have a couple of her books in my TBR pile. Note though, I won’t be starting with this one 😦 I’m so tired of spies ^_^; so I guess this one is definitively not for me.

  4. Christine Friday, September 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    Did you finish it yet? What’s your final verdict?

  5. Taja Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    nath – it was this book. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

    I think this is my first novel by Ashworth (though I’m not sure LOL). I’m not really a fan of spy stories and this novel sadly is a good example of why I’m wary of them. I wouldn’t recommend it for the spy part.

    Christine – finished it. 🙂 There are things I rather liked (a lot) but as I feared, the spy part “ruined” them a bit.

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