Title: Never Trust a Pirate
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: May 2017
Length: 309 pages
Series?: Playful Brides #7
Genre: Historical Romance
The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .
A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…
Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust–and win her heart–as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?
Frenchwoman Danielle feels out of her element entirely as she undergoes her last undercover mission. After this, she’ll be able to purchase a cottage by the sea and care for her mother until her final days. But first she must successfully infiltrate the Cavendish home as Lady Daphne’s new lady’s maid. Danielle’s a spy, she doesn’t know how to coif women’s hair! Let alone the latest fashions. After a crash course, she is sent on her way.
What Danielle didn’t expect in her new position was incredible kindness and friendship from Daphne Cavendish and her husband, a former spy himself. The stakes are high, and it tears Daphne to deceive them. When a drunken Rafe makes improper advances upon Daphne, she’s in a terrible position…until she learns it is not Rafe at all. It is his twin brother Cade, long thought dead even by Rafe.
Cade’s return to London is no coincidence. And neither is the Black Fox’s. While living under Rafe’s roof, it is crucial that Cade keep the true facts of his mission to himself. He can’t have Rafe suspecting anything is awry, but after reappearing in London using an alias, there are a lot of questions.
Danielle LaCrosse – a Frenchwoman working as a spy for General Grimaldi; she is determined to provide for her continuing ailing mother
Rafe Cavendish – a former spy for the War Office, now know as the Viscount Spy
Lady Daphne – Rafe’s wife; she is a kind and friendly woman
Cade Cavendish – a rakish rogue thought long-dead; he returns to London on personal mission
General Mark Grimaldi – the tall, broad, dark giant of a man with secrets; an English General; Danielle’s boss
If it was the last thing Cade did, he would avenge his brother’s treatment at the hands of the French. But he’d die before admitting that purpose to Rafe. Cade’s role as the black sheep of the family was important to him. Mustn’t disrupt the natural order of things.
The Highs and Lows
- Espionage. Rafe Cavendish was a spy for the War Office. He was the white sheep of their family, and was awarded a viscount title, dubbed the “Viscount Spy.” While he was doing everything to charm the ton, his twin brother Cade was doing everything to earn a disgraceful reputation. While Rafe has retired after a bungled mission that nearly took his life – and did take Daphne’s brother’s – Cade wonders if he really is done. While Cade suspects Rafe, he also fears Rafe suspects he is the notorious Black Fox. Whenever Cade comes into town, it appears so does the Black Fox. This time he has struck a French vessel in the harbor and stolen incriminating documents for Napoleon’s rescue from St. Helena. Cade has come back to England for a reason, and it raises suspicions with General Grimaldi.
- Danielle. She is a Frenchwoman in English territory. Even though it has been a few years, there is still a vein of deep-seated hatred in some. When her French father was murdered, her English mother was condemned and imprisoned in England. Now she is old, ailing, and very ill and Danielle is a woman wanting revenge. Whereas she should have been making a debut to society, Danielle could not afford that luxury. She is desperately in need for consistent income to provide for her ailing mother. At age 13, Danielle was on her own. She was an enterprising smuggler and now a spy. Her home is on a ship, but her new mission lands her as a new lady’s maid to Lady Daphne Cavendish. This should be the last mission she needs to take before being able to purchase the cottage by the sea for her mother. Despite having no experience in the lady’s maid field, she is trained by the best of lady’s maids and impresses Lady Daphne. Danielle strives to do the best of jobs above and beyond Lady Daphne’s satisfaction. She is very confident in her personal capabilities, but it is soon realized she does not have her own network of supports. It has been her forever. When Daphne and Rafe and their household show her kindness, she is surprised by the offers of help. Friendship is new territory for her.
- Cade. He has set his cover up well to be known as a disreputable rogue. He is the black sheep, letting his brother lead the way doing everything right. Like his brother, Cade is a man of his own. Unlike his brother, he still has secrets. Depending on what part of town he is in depends on which alias he uses. Cade does not want to raise Rafe surmising suspicions about what he has been up to over the years when he shocked Rafe by showing up the previous year at a townhouse party and introducing himself as Daffin Oakleaf. Rafe – like everyone – had thought him dead! Cade is back for one reason and he is not cluing his brother in. In fact, he wants his brother to never know even the barest hint of anything. He – like Grim and Danielle – is lying in wait for Lafayette Baptiste.
- Secrets Revealed. Danielle and Cade are thrown together under the same roof, and while Danielle is trying to keep everything above board for her job’s sake, Cade has a different agenda. Slowly each of them reveals their own vulnerabilities and secrets to one another. It is a spicy and sweet build up. The dance in the moonlight was such a tender and sweet moment. Cade has long suffered under the guise of being the black sheep, stemming from his inability to protect his mother growing up. Danielle has dedicated everything to her mother and her care. Their quips and small talks help develop their
- The Trail. With all three trailing Baptiste, Danielle is assigned a new mission. To be a cook’s assistant on board a ship keeping tabs on Baptiste. Little does she know whose ship it is. Well underway, she is brought to the captain’s quarters – and comes face to face with none other than Cade Cavendish. Their mission takes on a new element and keeps them ensconced in the captain’s quarters for several days. There is a steamy tub scene!
The pirate and espionage factors heightened my interest and the suspense threaded throughout that kept me wondering how and when the two subplots of Danielle and Cade would cross. They both shoulder burdens from their pasts, and despite how they appear, they both want the adoring love and support that Rafe and Daphne have for one another. Ultimately, these spies want someone constant and stable in their lives they can trust. Who better than another spy? The irony of Rafe and Cade being identical twins yet having drastically different reputations was a stark contrast, but after delving deeper Cade’s aliases were as make-believe as his black sheep persona. They are both honorable, upstanding men. I found Cade’s ability to truly see Danielle beyond a lady’s maid to be a testament to his true character. The fact that both Danielle and Cade are notorious spies in their own rights only made things that much more interesting with the plot line. I was waiting until one found the other out! The quick pace of the storyline kept me turning pages.
Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels aka Racy Regency Romps!
Valerie’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.
Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her rascally dogs. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.