Sunday, January 11, 2009

All Through The Night by Connie Brockway ****

This was a wonderful story and seemed a little different in the telling, in the writing, than the other Brockways I've read. It's also an AAR Top 100 of 2007 - and I can see why.

It's a Regency, starring Anne Wilder, a widow who was not born into but married into the ton, and undercover spy, Colonel Jack Seward. Anne is also working undercover - for herself - as a cat burglar (something I always thought sounded like the perfect career when I was a child and James Bond books and movies were popular!!). She leaps from roof to roof, stealing from the people who would pledge but never pay the charity she runs. Ostensibly she does it to exact retribution as much as to get the needed funds for the soldiers' home she founded and supports.

Jack was an orphan, plucked as a 7-year-old from an orphanage by Jamison, who trained him to be a ruthless undercover operative and is also his boss. Jack's latest job is to find the thief who stole an object that contained a letter, possibly from the mad king, that is apparently very politically sensitive. He learns early on that his thief is a woman - an alluring woman after whom he lusts. From the clues, he decides the woman is either a member of the ton, or a servant of a member of the ton, and so he gains access to parties and balls in order to find her. Although Anne is sure she's been found out, instead Jack falls for her and follows her for different reasons. His brain cannot process that the wanton woman he met in the night, who got away from him, could be Anne, so he continues under the notion that, after years of not feeling love at all, he is now in love with 2 women: the thief, who would be his equal, and Anne, who is too far above his station and whom he does not deserve.

Frankly, I got a little confused by all the different people involved in both the undercover work and the suspects and their friends and family - maybe because I was reading in less-than-ideal situations, while working and while the TV was on. It was near the end I started to at least recognize who was whom, even though I was still struggling with things like ages and relationships. The government fellows were Jamison, Seward's alleged father (but probably not); Knowles; Strand; Vedders... I think Jamison and Knowles were older, but wasn't sure of the relationship between the two. Vedders and Strand and oh, Frost - I sorta got the idea they were maybe contemporaries in age of Seward (mid-thirties?) but above his station even though they were all working for Jamison, or maybe for Knowles...? These things mattered because some of them were parents of adults, and some of them were associating with younger women, like Anne's young cousin who was making her debut that season, and I was constantly confused about which was which.

But the story was interesting, and Brockway's prose was more interesting in this story than in the others I've read as well - and her characters were dark, brooding, and in pain. All around, I enjoyed the read and gave it 4 stars. I went on over to AAR to read the review (some of the reviewers have a true gift of expression) and once again the reviewer managed to better describe the book - starting really from something revealed at the end (Jack's childhood).

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