NO LONGER A GENTLEMAN – Mary Jo Putney
The Lost Lords , Book 4
England and France , 1813
In England , she's Cassie Fox. In France , she's Madame Reynaud, a drab woman of seemingly middle age who travels in a pony cart to sell her wares. In reality, she was born to an upper class Englishman and his aristocratic French wife. As a child visiting her mother's home, Cassie was away for the day with her nursemaid only to return in time to see the angry mob who murdered her parents and siblings. She hid out with her nurse until she was captured and spent two years in prison until managing to escape. She made her way to England where she's now a valuable agent who often crosses the channel to work against the French. Her spymaster has a new mission for her. Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham disappeared in France in 1803 when the Treaty of Amiens was broken, and England and France were once again at war. While most everyone has given him up for dead, James Kirkland, his friend and Cassie's boss, has never given up hope, no matter how many leads have come to dead ends. He's now in possession of intelligence that Wyndham has been imprisoned all this time in a French castle.
Grey had been termed a golden boy for his blond good looks and charm. When he went to France during the cease fire, Kirkland had asked him to keep an eye out. As often happened, willing ladies readily made themselves available to him, so when Madame Durand did so, then twenty-year-old Grey figured since her husband held a high position in the Ministry of Police it was his duty to pleasure the lady. Unfortunately, her husband caught them. He didn't kill Grey; that would be too quick. Instead, he thrust him into the dungeon of his castle. Grey spent the next ten years alone, though for the last eight, he had a neighbor in the next cell with whom he was able to communicate. Perhaps having P ère Laurent to talk to saved Grey's sanity…or did it?
By this time, any reader must be completely caught up in this incredible adventure. Cassie is as wily as her name suggests. But freeing Grey and the priest is just the beginning. Ten years of near isolation is bound to affect a man, and Grey is greatly damaged. Perhaps Cassie, with the hurtful experiences of her own past, is just the one to understand him and what he needs. Can she return him to his family—who think him dead—and if so, what happens next?
The Lost Lords range from a duke to the bastard son of a peer. All six met in a special school for noble but troublesome boys. There they thrived and became fast friends, but war and fate scattered them. In this fourth novel in the series, some of them have come home and into their own, and we get to meet or hear of them again…and the ladies they love. It's a wonderful series of novels, Mary Jo Putney at her best. I couldn't help but be reminded of her superlative Fallen Angel series from the mid 1990s. Yet, for me, Grey elicits as much admiration and sympathy as her hero of THE RAKE, which has just been reprinted. Both men must fight to hang on to sanity and be the best they can be. And both are lucky in the women who help them.
For a rare treat of a novel full of thrills, dangers, passion, and friendships, I highly recommend NO LONGER A GENTLEMAN.