Fate Brought Them Together.
Newly widowed, Bronwyn Parrish’s fortune has been spent settling her late husband’s debts—thanks to an unscrupulous business manager—and now there’s nothing left. Society has no place for a woman without means, and with nowhere to turn, Bronwyn is lost…until, from out of nowhere, a handsome gentleman steps in and makes her an offer she can’t refuse.
Will Desire Tear Them Apart?
Secrets and subterfuge are in Marco Black’s blood. As one of Nemesis, Unlimited’s most senior agents, Society women aren’t his usual cup of tea. But Marco’s sixth sense tells him that there’s more to Bronwyn than meets the eye…and he wants to help the brazen beauty retrieve her lost fortune. But is his attraction to her worth the risk? His mission will lead him all the way to Les Grillons, France’s most ruthless crime syndicate. Soon, Marco and Bronwyn will find themselves facing a danger that could cost them their lives—and a passion that is priceless.
The newest book in Archer’s Nemesis, Unlimited series features Nemesis member and British spy, Marco Black. I’ve read Books 1 and 2 in the series and highly recommend them if you’re a fan of adventure romances or historicals set outside the ballroom, though if you haven’t read them you shouldn’t have trouble jumping in with Book 3. Throughout the series, Marco has always seemed the most cold, aloof, and least interesting Nemesis agent to me. Fortunately, I loved his story.
Nemesis, a secret organization dedicated to getting justice for those who can’t get it for themselves, signs on to help a society widow named Bronwyn Parrish. Bronwyn’s recently deceased husband supposedly racked up huge debts that left her with nothing. Usually Nemesis is getting revenge ON the upper classes, not FOR them, so initially Marco is against taking the job and resentful that he’s the only available agent to handle it. He assumes Bronwyn is a typical society widow–selfish, sheltered, and vapid–but as he gets to know her he realizes that she is much more. Nemesis suspects something shady happened with the money, so Marco and Bronwyn embark on a journey to get her money back. The mission that quickly turns exceedingly dangerous and complicated.
Marco was an interesting character for me. He’s a great example of how an author can write a man who’s kind of a brooding, cocky traditional hero without him being abusive, creepy, or rapey. Even without the rapey-ness, this isn’t usually my favorite kind of hero, and at first I wasn’t that into Marco because he does seem a bit of a jerk. He’s kind of rude and bossy to Bronwyn, and he definitely doesn’t act very gentlemanly at first. I warmed up to him as the book progressed though, as Archer reveals the reasons for his behavior. He’s a spy, a profession that leaves little room for niceties but plenty of room for mistrust, caution, and ruthlessness. What seems like rudeness at first is at least in part a function of his candidness, which Bronwyn has never had from the men in her life. His bossiness is a sign that he respects Bronwyn’s abilities and trusts her to participate in the mission. And in fact by the end, we can see that Marco’s cool exterior hides an intensely passionate and compassionate center, something even he never recognized. I always appreciate when an author can make me fall in love with a character I wasn’t really fond of at the start! Even better, I could see why Bronwyn would fall in love with him and how her love helps Marco see himself in a new light.
In contrast to Marco’s crazy spy skills, Bronwyn is a more relatable character. She’s been in a gilded cage, as most upper class women of her time. It’s protected her from the harsher side of life, but it also limited her potential and made her bored and restless. From the start, Marco shows her a side of life she never knew existed, and I’d say her reaction to it is certainly believable. She doesn’t shy away from reality, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t struggle with it. She gets upset when Marco has to kill people, gets frightened in scary situations, is shocked by things like poverty and abuse, and expects more from Marco than he wants to give. She doesn’t change her personality during the course of the story or suddenly become a super spy, but she does grow in her understanding of who she is and how she might fit into the larger world. In short, she’s kick ass but not a superhero, which is a trap I think some romance novels fall into. This is a more realistic transition, in my mind.
This book definitely brings out the “adventure” part of this series. Marco and Bronwyn travel across Europe evading and outrunning the French crime syndicate hunting them. They sleep in freight cars, have shoot outs in hay fields, meet with dangerous characters, and do more breaking and entering than a cat burglar. (There doesn’t seem to be a lock anywhere that can keep out Marco. I kept thinking things would be so much easier if he just robbed a bank for Bronwyn and was done with it!) Yes, the antics can be a little over the top at times, but nothing is so far out there that it makes me totally lose faith in the story. Plus, Archer does a great job of grounding her stories in the historical reality, which makes some of the adventure elements more palatable.
This book is my favorite of the Nemesis, Unlimited series so far. It’s a fun but not outlandish historical story with unique, fully drawn characters who live outside the world of dukes and balls, and it hit all of my sweet spots for romantic adventure.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5