ARC-Review: THE SECRETS OF A LADY by Jenna Petersen

Audrey Jordan isn’t your typical Regency lady. To escape unrequited feelings for her brother’s best friend Griffin Berenger, she entered a life of a spy. But her current case has brought her back to the man she once loved and lost, a man who is now a broken widower. Audrey and her brother are stalking his neighbor, a man who may be plotting to kill the Prince. Staying in Griffin’s home, Audrey is reminded of all the desires and feelings he once stirred in her. As for Griffin, he finds himself obsessed with Audrey, and driven to protect her even if it threatens her case.

But as their desire for each other grows, the case Audrey and her brother are investigating heats up. And if she cannot arrest the blackguard in her sights, she may not live, let alone get to live happily ever after with the man of her dreams.


Title: THE SECRETS OF A LADY
Author: Jenna Petersen
Series: The Jordans, book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Year of release: 2011, August 30
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
“Damn weddings, damn love and damn Griffin Berenger!”

Memorable Scenes:
– The first kiss between Griffin and Audrey (not the one in the prologue) > this gave a perfect little taste of what to expect from the love scenes.
– The scene where Griffin explains to Audrey about his marriage > emotionally gripping

Audrey Jordan is a spy. She helps her brother solve cases for the War Department. Though circumstances forced her into this line of duty she does love the thrill and challenge of it. She’s impulsive, stubborn and wears her heart on her sleeve. Audrey was a heroine I enjoyed reading a lot. Her love for Griffin was palpable but she was not willing to settle for anything less than him loving her back.

Griffin Berenger was a little more complicated but I loved him as the hero of this book. He’s controlled, protective and guarded with his emotions and trust after having a lying, deceitful wife. He tries so hard to stay away from Audrey because he’s convinced he cannot give her what she deserves: love. He thinks he has no love left to give as without trust there cannot be love and betrayal has made it hard for him to trust women claiming to love him.

THE SECRETS OF A LADY starts off very intriguingly as the prologue describes the Audrey being at the Griffin’s (her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush) wedding celebration. She gets drunk, kisses the newly married Griffin and getting caught by the wife. Drunken Audrey is escorted out the room by her brother and fade-out…
First chapter we’ve fast-forwarded 5 years and the scene opens with Audrey and her brother watching a now widowed Griffin at the cemetery, at his wife’s grave. And this solves the married hero problem. I must admit I was a little worried after the prologue how the married thing was going to be solved. This was an adequate solution.

The romance between Griffin and Audrey was exquisitely done. It’s an intricate love story, with its share of complicating factors. Risky decisions are made and the plot lands both Griffin and Audrey in some tricky situations and I liked that Jenna Petersen never let them take the easy, obvious road. They have to work for their HEA and I always like reading that as I’m not one to take the easy way with anything.

This historical romance is set in the early 19th century and the plot is centered on spies. Readers who don’t like historical spy romance (I know some) should not read this book as the major part of the plot centers on this trope. I enjoy historical spy romances when they are well done and I know from experience that Jenna Petersen does them well.

In THE SECRETS OF A LADY Audrey and her brother Noah are after the mastermind of a plan to kill the Prince Regent and they need Griffin’s help to get close to one of the traitors. So the villain is known and the plot revolves around catching him and bringing him to justice before he can execute his evil plans. Petersen doesn’t go easy on her main characters and her villains are so utterly evil you hate them as much as the main characters do yet she never takes them truly over the top. She does end them in horrible yet deserved ways and this particular villain suffered that same fate.

I loved the insertion of the secondary characters in the story and their roles in the plot and the romance. There are enough secondary characters to make the book more plot-driven than character-driven yet they never take the focus away from Audrey and Griffin, if anything they complement them perfectly. I especially loved the bond between Audrey and Noah. Noah was a great brother, protective but not smothering her.

I really like Jenna Petersen’s historicals and THE SECRETS OF A LADY was no exception. Her writing is fluent and fast-paced, mixing the spy stuff and the romance nicely together, she does a great job of balancing them in a way that neither takes the upper hand, yet they’re both strong elements in the book. Especially the second half kept me turning the pages quicker and quicker as to find out what would happen next.

In fewer than 200 pages Jenna Petersen penned a well-rounded story and gave me characters with depth to them. A story of betrayal in different forms, a deeply rooted love and a happy end that resonated with me because of the battle fought to get to it. So another win in my book for Jenna Petersen and I am ready for the next in this trilogy, brother Nathan.

Favorite Quotes:
All she had to do was go into the room once Noah had convinced Griffin to help them. Oh, and keep herself from fainting with nervousness, and remember to breathe, and speak, and make an effort to appear calm. Just because she’d never been able to do any of those things near Griffin before…

Griffin settled into a chair beside the crackling fire and covered his face with his hands. What had he just done? No, he knew the answer to that question. He had opened Pandora’s Box and now it was too late to turn back.
“Audrey.”
Her name burned his lips as much as her kiss had five years before.

Blood raced hot in his veins and the evidence of her power over his body grew. He swelled against the barrier of his trousers after just her kiss.

His warm lips sent moist heat through her veins and turned her knees to water. It took all her willpower not to lean against him and beg him for more.

“Are you planning on explaining yourself, Griffin Berenger, or just dragging me back to your home like the puffed up, pompous…” she trailed off, trying to find the right word. “Brute that you are?”

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