Fiction: “From London With Love” by Jenna Petersen

>>>This section of the post written July 28, according to the date it was last modified
Remember that post I made a couple of weeks ago, wherein I took a picture of all the romance novels I had bought? Well, one of them is/was Desire Never Dies, which I started reading right after finishing Beyond Seduction. That was one of the titles that fell under the category of “Lady!Spies!”, and I was intrigued.

I actually started reading it, and I got about five pages in when I learned that one of the characters — Meredith — recently married someone whose last name was Archer. I put the book down, and said out loud, alone in my room, “OH PLEASE LET HIS FIRST NAME BE STERLING.”

Knowing how romance trilogies work (oh, I’m sorry, romance!world — apparently trilogies are for movies, and ‘trios’ or ‘triads’ are what they call a series of three books. Apologies.), I immediately began my bookstore search for the first title in the triad (because thanks to GoodReads, I learned that Desire Never Dies was the second book in the triad. Of course it was – that’s how I roll). But no luck — Annie’s Used Books didn’t have it, Books-A-Million didn’t have it (though they did have the next J.D. Robb title I had been looking for), and Bull Moose didn’t have it.

So I did something I’d never done before: I bought a book to read on my phone.

This is a Big Deal. My friend Brad and I have had — well, not long or huge

>>>The Document cuts off here, mid-sentence. I pick up the thread nearly two weeks later, in the middle of a Laundry-Day What Up Wednesday

HAHAHAHAHA Oh man … what a place to end that sentence. Anyway. I thought y’all might like to see how the writing process works – I’ll write a couple of paragraphs, put it away and return to it two weeks later, and I’m usually scratching my head over what I wrote.

For instance: I neglected to mention in that first paragraph that, according to the Prologue, the triad was set up like a Regency version of Charlie’s Angels – the mentor who gives the Lady!Spies! their missions is named Charles, and there are three women. As my hero Britta Perry would say, duh-doi. But then she’d get into a rant about how Charlie’s Angels is too misogynistic, and that there should be a TV show called “Charlotte’s Devils” or something to have the feminist equivalent, and she’d try to actually make that happen, but she’d only end up Britta’ing it.

And then the thing about me and my friend having something that’s neither huge nor long… oh my god, if I didn’t know that Brad didn’t read this thing, I’d be terribly embarrassed by that cut-off. But since I know he doesn’t read this (or Movies Alaina’s Never Seen, which is weird — he should have a vested interest in that one), I’m just going to giggle at myself for a while. Hee hee hee.

Anyway. What Brad and I were talking about all those eons ago was that he was all about the Kindle, and I maintained that I was a Luddite who would never read a book on an electronic device.

“But Kid,” he’d say, “you’d have all your books in one place!”

“But Brad,” I’d respond, “if the Kindle should break or get stolen, then not only would I be out my entire library –”

“– Which could be re-downloaded –”

“– Uh, not sure that’s a real word, but as I was saying, then I’d be out two hundred bucks to replace my Kindle.”

“Put it on your insurance!”

“That’s too much work! Instead, I buy a paperback at Bull Moose for three bucks, and then when I move, I attempt to sell it back to Bull Moose. Or, better yet, there’s the library, which I really have to start using more frequently.”

[No, seriously. In the process of moving, I have lost count of how many boxes and/or totes of books I have moved. Lost. Count. It’s at least nine. THAT’S ALMOST TOO MANY BOOKS A SCARY AMOUNT OF BOOKS. Hi, welcome to my humble abode, the non-affiliated branch of the Yarmouth library!]

So, with Brad’s nattering at my resistance to move into the technological future ringing in my ear the entire time [this from the man who has owned an Android phone for, by my reckoning, at least a year but never activated it because he loves his old flip phone more than apparently life itself], I did eventually download From London With Love onto my phone, because I had to find out if the mysterious man named Archer’s first name was Sterling. And if there would be an ocelot.

Sadly, neither came to pass. Oh, the disappointment. But regardless, let me share with you the plot and some key quotes that I thankfully thought ahead to type up, because you know what happens when you switch out your SD card for one with a bigger memory? YOU CAN’T RETREIVE YOUR KINDLE BOOKS.

So Meredith … oh shit. Sinclair! Thanks, Amazon! Anyway, Meredith Sinclair is one of the women chosen to be one of Charlie’s Angels. She is apparently one of the best spies ever to spy in the history of spying. Good for her. Well, her next target is STERLING? Tristan Archer, who is suspected of being an art thief and possible traitor. Apparently, the art was stolen as a way to exchange treasonous information — the traitors would stick treacherous Post-It Notes on the back or something.

Well, Meredith doesn’t want to think that Archer is a traitor — he’s not smart enough for that because he saved her life once when she was sixteen. It’s not really explained how it happened, but she was near a tavern and was nearly raped in the alley, and Archer came upon the scene and nearly killed the guy. Good for you, Archer. Anyway, Meredith pushes through her reservations and agrees to investigate her former friend.

She goes to a ball that he’s attending with his mother OH MY GOD PLEASE LET HER NAME BE MALORY AND LET HER BE A DELIGHTFUL BITCH oh her name’s Constance? Oh. Dammit! Why can’t things ever work out the way I want them to? Anyway, Meredith finagles an invitation to his estate or whatever for a couple of weeks’ engagement party — meaning, there’s Archer, there’s his mother, and then a gaggle of eligible young ladies who are hoping to secure a ring out of him –, giving her a great chance to investigate him further.

Except that, as naturally happens, they fall in love. And Meredith struggles to keep her emotions in check so she can accurately gather evidence, and Archer doesn’t know what she’s doing behind his back, so when she finds damning evidence that he is indeed a traitor (like, the missing painting in his study – that’s a big fucking giveaway), he is betrayed and heartbroken.

But Meredith’s other Angels, Anastasia and Emily, remind her that her gut instinct has proven to be correct over and over, so why doesn’t she trust her gut this time? (POSSIBLY BECAUSE IT’S VERY HUNGRY oh man I kill me sometimes) After that pep talk, she and her friends work to break Archer out of prison so that he can prove his innocence. In the end, Meredith marries Archer, and all is right with the world, because of course Archer isn’t a traitor – he was just attempting to avenge his brother’s death!

Overall, I liked it. It was extremely formulaic, but with how I’ve been reading lately, I had no problem with that. [Too … tired … reading four pages then … sleep] There were, however, a couple of things I found either interesting and/or horrifying. Let me show you them.

For one, Ms. Petersen was very concerned with how everyone smelled. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve read a lot of romance novels, but I’ve read a fair number, and never before have I seen an omniscient narrator so involved in categorizing scents. Here are, I believe, every known olfactory mention — and because I read this on a Kindle app, I can only quote by location number, not by page. I apologize.

Also, because I am a giant nerd: “Well, I guess we’re off to the old factory. I hate that place.”

“His masculine scent, clean and spicy, filled her senses, and her knees went weak.” [Location 846]

“His nostrils were filled with the gentle scent of her skin.” [Location 930]

“Hadn’t been close enough to breathe the intoxicating scent that hung so dark and sensual around her.” [Location 1715]

“He wanted her to help him remember. To help him forget. Mostly he just wanted to lose herself in her touch, her scent, her taste.” [Location 2047]

To prove to the naysayers who don’t believe that “finagling” is a word:

“After a bit of finagling, it caught on an updraft and swooped into the sky.” [Location 1070]

But, I’m pretty sure this is not a word:

“He’d been trying to keep the changes in his soul seperate from his behavior…” [Location 2247]

I mean, I know it’s a typo, but … a typo? Really? Come on, editors!

And dear Romance Writers: please do not describe this phenomenon like this, because: ick:

“Hot blood warmed every sensitive part of her. Her nipples tingled in anticipation, and beneath her underskirts humid desire warmed her thighs.” [Location 3800]

When I read that, I went “eeeeeewwww….” The last thing I want is the equivalent of a tropical storm in my thighs.

and now I’m SUPER GLAD some of my friends don’t read this…

Finally, I would like to leave you with this: Archer is speaking with his right-hand man, Philip:

“What does this conversation have to do with my business?” [Archer] asked quietly.

Philip shrugged. “Absolutely nothing, but then again, my ledger is closed.” [Location 764]

#AGENTCOULSONLIVES

Grade for From London With Love: 2 stars

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