Saturday, September 22, 2018

Series Thoughts: Liar's Club

Liar's Club

by Celeste Bradley
Book 1:  The Pretender | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars | Previously Reviewed
Book 2:  The Imposter | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars
Book 3:  The Spy | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars
Book 4:  The Charmer | Goodreads | Rating:  2.5 Stars
Book 5:  The Rogue | Goodreads | Rating:  2.5 Stars

Average Series Rating:  3.1 Stars

I had already reviewed The Pretender, which you can find my review at the link above.  So the following will be just for the last four books, though to be honest, aside from having thoughts on the first book, I really couldn't come up with much to say about the rest.

These are cute and witty little historical espionage books with a side dish of romance.  The characters are all fun and unique in their own way, which I very much enjoyed.

An absolutely entertaining series to pass the time.

It just also felt like we were running out of ideas towards the end of the series, and our main male characters were all kind of... well, flat.  Even the hero of the last book, Ethan Damont, who was probably the most interesting of the heroes came out a bit boring.

I don't like that the series itself concludes on such an open-ended note, because then you feel like you need to pick up the next series that follows this one.  And frankly, The Liar's Club was really just a mediocre series, at best, even if I enjoyed some of the witty banter and amusing narrative.

Rule #1: Never fall in love.

She had a secret she'd do anything to hide.
Agatha Cunnington, a headstrong beauty from the country, has come to London in search of her missing brother James.  The only clue she has is a cryptic letter signed The Griffin.  Agatha decides to disguise herself as a respectable married woman so that she can go about the city unnoticed.  But for her charade to work she needs a suitable "husband," preferably someone tall, elegant, and rakish-someone like Simon Montague Rain.

He had a secret he'd do anything to hide.
Simon Montague Rain, also known as The Magician, is a member of The Liar's Club, a renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown.  When someone begins murdering members of the undercover cabal one by one, Simon is given the mission to bring in The Griffin, one of his comrades who is suspected of betraying his brothers.  Simon goes undercover and infiltrates the home of "Mrs." Agatha Applequist who he believes is the Griffin's mistress.  Before Simon knows what's happened, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Agatha's soft, feminine charms-and he is tempted beyond reason to break the first rule of The Liar's Club: never fall in love.

Again, see my previously published review above.  As stated before, this first book took some time to get into, and then ended up feeling like three different anecdotes... but ultimately was very enjoyable.

It isn't easy moving about Society dressed like a dandy-especially when one is a ruthless spy.  But that's precisely the latest mission for Liar's Club agent Dalton Montmorecy.  Dalton is posing as Sir Thorogood, the elusive cartoonist whose scathing political caricatures have all of London abuzz.  The true identity of Sir Thorogood is a mystery, and Dalton hopes that impersonating him will flush out the real menace before his cartoons do further damage to the Crown.  Now, if Dalton could only find a way to get the irksome, yet oddly appealing widow, Clara Simpson, off his trail...

When Clara meets Sir Thorogood at a ball, she's certain he is an impostor-because she's the true Sir Thorogood. Secretly penning the cartoons under the frothy nom de plume, Clara hopes to save enough money so that she can leave her in-laws and find a new residence.  Now she is determined to reveal an imposter's identity-and that means doing some undercover work herself.  But pretending to be someone you're not has a funny way of making a woman do things she wouldn't ordinarily dream of-even if it drives her straight into the arms of her devilishly handsome adversary!

I found that I liked The Imposter more than I liked The Pretender, although I was wondering if that was because it's been a little over a year since I last read the previous book.  The Imposter felt like a breath of fresh air, and truthfully, it didn't take as long to pick up as I recall The Pretender taking.  I also very much love the premise of this book, with our heroine as a secret, infamous political caricature artist, revealing a lot of the dark, secret underbelly of high society.

I loved Clara's alter egos, as Sir Thorogood, and even as the chambermaid, Rose.  I thought the sweet little romance between Rose and Monty could have been handled a little bit better.  And at times I felt like the airhead act Clara takes on at the beginning of the book was a bit unnecessary.

But otherwise, the book was very enjoyable.  Certainly, Dalton wasn't really a standout hero, and actually DID frustrate me a bit.  Side characters were uniquely comical in their own way.

This was an overall fun time.

A final thing I wanted to mention was the version of the book I read had a lot of typos and editing errors.  This was the Scribd e-book version, and I wondered if this book had simply been scanned into a computer, because a lot of times, a lot of the words looked like they were misspelled, but at times they looked like the letters just melded together to create different letters.

Rule# 3: Never surrender your will.
By day, he is a gentleman with a notorious fondness for games of seduction.  By night, he is one of the most skilled saboteurs in the Liar's Club--a secret group of renegades dedicated to serving the Crown.  And while he willingly risks his life for the good of England, he vows never to put his heart in harm's way...

James Cunnington has a pressing mission at hand: He must find the daughter of a missing code breaker for the Liar's Club, a man suspected of turning traitor for Napoleon.  Time is of the utmost concern.  While it is evident that his ward's new tutor has something to hide, James is unaware that the woman he seeks now resides under his very roof...

Desperate and near destitute, Philippa Atwater must don gentleman's clothing to pass herself off as a scholarly young tutor.  Her clever—if itchy—disguise allows her time to pursue her quest to find her father, ruthlessly abducted by French spies.  Closely guarding the cryptic notebook he entrusted to her care, she senses danger all around her—even in the home of her roguishly handsome new employer, James Cunnington.  Now Philippa is about to discover that the desire can be as lethal as a well-aimed bullet.

By this book in the series, I'm starting to see a pattern in the romance's formula, which I will probably just gloss over and move on.  Meanwhile, I found that I was a bit conflicted about The Spy, if only because the heroine almost seems too contradictory in her actions and her ideals.  I had a hard time grasping what type of person Philippa is, and her short little judgmental monologues about some of the women of the ton, seemed a bit uncalled for.  Fortunately, those didn't last long.

James, on the other hand, was just kind of a jerk... albeit a strangely charming one, because he ended up being part of a cross-dressing plot device, and I always love watching all the silly things that men in fiction do in these plots when they think there aren't any women around.

I LOVED Robbie--he was sweet, adorable, and so mature at the same time.  And I didn't realize how awesome Button, the world's greatest valet, was until this book.

As for the book's espionage plot itself... it seemed a bit dragged out and there were times where I felt like certain aspects could have been either left out, or fast-forwarded.

In a sense, this was a romance, first and foremost, and it did it's job.

Who is the charmer?

Collis Tremayne could make any female swoon; yet no one would guess the hidden desperation that drove him to become the most skilled spy in service to the Crown.  All that stands in his way is... Rose Lacey, the first female Liar ,and a confounding chit who manages to outsmart him with cunning and courage.  She is the only woman he cannot melt with his smile.  With every breath, he wishes he had never laid eyes on her.  And with every flash of her green eyes, he craves to possess her...

Rose Lacey fought hard to meet the challenges of becoming a spy for the infamous Liar's Club.  And if it weren't for Collis Tremayne, who manages to make her blood boil with his arrogance, and leave her breathless with white-hot longing, she'd achieve her dream.  Now, they must work together on a secret mission to uncover a dangerous plot--one in which the very safety of England hangs in the balance.  Armed with wit and wiles, they must face deadly intrigue, clever enemies, and if they can manage not to murder one another--the intoxicating lure of unbidden passion...

I really hate to admit it, but this was the weakest link in The Liar's Club series.  And I hate to admit this because I'd been looking forward to this Liar's Club book, which included the very first official female Liar.  And while Rose Lacey is just as kick ass and awesome as I'd been expecting... well, the book itself was a bit of a disappointment.

It felt slapdash, the dialogue was a bit corny rather than stimulating, and the events felt rushed or deliberately placed.  The romance was extremely cliched and the writing style felt dated (even for an historical romance).  It could have been better.

A gambler and a liar?

Ethan Damont’s legendary gambling skills have earned him a place at the gaming tables of London’s most exclusive homes.  He has used his dubious place in Society to aid the Liar’s Club.  But his latest favor to the group has not only put his life in danger—it has thrown him together with the woman who tempts him to forgo his rakish ways.  Lady Jane Pennington is a proper young lady and the ravishing niece of a suspected traitor.  Now it’s Ethan’s job to discover if the woman he finds irresistible is naïve to her uncle’s deceit—or guilty of treason against the Crown…

Jane can barely wait for the Season to end—until she meets Ethan Damont.  After a humiliating first encounter, Jane expects a scoundrel like Ethan to joke at her expense.  Instead, he behaves like a perfect gentleman.  But just as Jane finds herself overcome by her desire for Ethan, he takes her captive.  Suddenly, she is pulled into a dangerous world where it’s impossible to know who is friend and who is foe.  Will this rogue prove to be her undoing… or the love she has always longed for?

This one wasn't all that memorable, even if Ethan happened to be the most interesting of the five heroes in this series.  Jane should have been the most interesting of the five heroines, but she also didn't really stand out all that much.  And also, there's a scene in this book that I found hard to stomach, and minus that particular scene, this book would have probably been much more enjoyable.

Honestly, this couple had the most amusing, sweet relationship... up until that one scene.  Basically, it's not right to force someone to do something they don't want to do, whether you're male or female.  And I didn't like how the romance was handled.  In fact, this book would have merited a lower star rating just for that particular scene alone, but the rest of the book was actually pretty good... even if not memorable.

The twist about Jane was actually pretty predictable.  And I felt like the whole band of Liar's were a bit annoying, with their secretive, cryptic conversations, pretty much leaving Ethan in the dark, no matter that they keep saying that he's one of them.  He still didn't seem privy to all the information he needed to complete the mission they forced him into.

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