I discovered the talented Anne Mallory after reading – and loving! – Three Nights of Sin.
Despite a misleading title, that novel had fabulous three-dimensional characters, interesting plot twists, an electric chemistry between the hero and heroine, and Mallory’s writing was superb. Hoping for a repeat performance, I was quick to snatch up a copy of Mallory’s Masquerading the Marquess.
Unfortunately, I found this novel to be a bit of a letdown. The characters of Calliope and James are both likable enough, but entirely forgettable once the book is finished. Mallory tried to paint Calliope as a woman with a cutting wit, but I only found myself smirking in appreciation of her sass twice throughout the book. In comparison to the truly
witty leading lady in Three Nights of Sin,
Calliope just didn’t measure up. She was, however, more notable than our hero. I felt that James lacked the edge and sense of darkness that I have come to expect from spy characters in this genre, and I have serious doubts that an even younger James could have pulled off the level of spy craft and intrigue necessary for tangling with the likes of Bonaparte.
Though this plot had amazing potential, I don’t think Mallory was particularly successful at executing her vision for it. The climax of the novel, where the mystery was unraveled and the murderer unveiled, was a little like one of those Russian nesting dolls (but not in a good way). Mallory seemed to be trying to prove to her audience how cleverly she can craft a plot, adding layer after layer of detail and deception. Normally, I would see this as a positive, but without the skills to back it up this approach just came across feeling clunky and – in parts – nonsensical.
One thing that I will
acknowledge is that Masquerading the Marquess
was Mallory’s first novel, and as such was undoubtedly a learning experience for her. I won’t hold this “miss” against her, but I do hope that the rest of the series improves.
Verdict: Not worth recommending to others or re-reading myself.