With the publication of The Tiger’s Mistress, Andrea DaRif begins a Regency series featuring espionage set against the glittering backdrop of Polite Society. With military heroes, spymasters and unlikely allies, she offers us yet another opportunity to eavesdrop on the ton in all its splendor.
Alexander Sheffield, the Earl of Branford, thought he left his military career on the fields of Portugal. When his closest friend, a diplomat attached to Whitehall, ask for his help, his patriotic tendencies make the decision easy. Just as Branford embarks on a series of investigations for a missing document, he stumbles upon another mystery, apparently entangled in the same web of deceit.
Baron Julian Hadley is missing. The eccentric scholar is rumored to have fled the country after losing his family home and fortunes gambling. Lady Portia Hadley is convinced that her father has met with foul play, and is recklessly searching for clues to his whereabouts. When her escapades continue to coincide with Branford’s mission, the earl draws some conclusions of his own. Is the absent baron merely a coincidence or is his departure somehow connected with the missing document? Why does the headstrong Miss Hadley continue to appear at the very same social engagements, looking for the same people he is investigating?
I love a good Regency and this one has some outstanding characters. The entire Hadley family, from Aunt Octavia to Bertram, are eccentric and thoroughly charming. The other members of the military, from “the Saint” at Whitehall to “the Cricket”, provide more entertaining and heart-warming encounters. The plot is interesting, with some “red herrings” and other twists, but I found the pace somewhat uneven. Parts of the book were riveting, yet others seemed inconsequential. Regardless, readers will no doubt appreciate Ms. DaRif’s eye for detail and her writing style. The Tiger’s Mistress is just the beginning, and I am adding a little extra to my book budget for the next book.