Title: Love, Lies and Spies
Author: Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: April 19th 2016
Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, Cindy Anstey’s Love, Lies and Spies opens up with one of the funniest scenes I’ve come across in a while. I immediately took a liking to the protagonist Juliana as she tries to navigate strict social constructs while not compromising who she is. While her aunt and cousin prepare for a Season of balls and courtship, Juliana’s only goal is to find a publisher for the research she and her father have done on the ladybug. I really enjoyed this aspect of the protagonist’s character, but I did not feel that the author explored her interest enough. Juliana’s pursuit of a publisher remained on the outskirts of the plot that centered more on her relationship with her love interest and his story.
Juliana meets Spencer Northam in a rather hilarious way and I loved their immediate rapport. There’s an ease and playfulness to their exchanges that had me smiling throughout. I do, however, feel that their relationship never really advanced past that first stage of superficial flirting. Part of the reason for this is the era in which this book is written. Most of their interactions take place in crowded rooms with only a few words exchanged at a time, so it was never appropriate for them to spend time alone together in order to get to know one another. This aside, I still feel that their relationship lacked real depth. This is mostly due to the fact that Spencer spent the majority of the novel hiding his secret occupation and the book hardly explored Juliana’s personal interests, making their interactions with each other feel incomplete.
The main conflict of the novel revolves around Spencer as he investigates who has been working with the French against Britain. Unfortunately, this aspect of the novel really slowed down the pacing. It was probably the least interesting part of the book which had a negative effect on how much I enjoyed it. Love, Lies and Spies has a very sweet romantic storyline, but could have been better if the protagonist had a larger role involving the main conflict.