The Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors #5)- Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead!
Synopsis: The moment spymaster Baron Fulkham meets the stunning Princess Aurore of Chanay, he's positive her royal persona is a ruse and that she's actually Monique Servais, the mysterious actress he met three years before in Dieppe. But as he pursues his suspicions, he uncovers a plot of attempted assassination and betrayal that could very well destroy his career, expose his own secrets...and ruin the woman he's rapidly coming to love.
When Baron Gregory Fulkham and actress Monique Servais first meet he's condescending and she's insulted. Three years later he's helping hold the international conference that will choose the first ruler of an independent Belgium and she's playing the role of a lifetime: her nearly twin cousin Princess Aurore of Chanay and a strong contender for Belgium's throne. Fulkham is almost sure its the same woman, but why is the Chanay contingent calling her a princess? He needs to discover Monique's secrets, try to protect his own, prevent an international incident, and an assassination attempt all without falling for a woman who, as a princess or an actress, is completely wrong for a wife. And that's before things get complicated!
From the very beginning Monique defies all conventions- society's and those of a stereotypical actress. She doesn't want to meet rich and titled English lords who fall for her beauty on stage. She wants to work hard and take care of her ailing grandmother. When Fulkham, both rich and titled, claims tragedies are the only real theater after she's just professed to enjoy comedies (and just acted in one!) she doesn't keep her opinions to herself but lets him have it with no hesitation. When her great-uncle appears claiming he needs her to do him a favor, she doesn't want his money or connections- she just wants her grandmother taken care of. Where most actresses would see playing a real life princess the role of a lifetime, she sees a disaster in the making. Monique is realistic, loyal, brave, and intelligent- everything Gregory Fulkham needs.
Fulkham is the shadowy spymaster friend we've met in previous Sinful Suitors books, but know almost nothing about- and here we find out why. Fulkham battles demons from his childhood by trying to lock himself away from the world and the potential for being hurt again. It was delightful to watch Monique get past all his defenses without even trying, and equally delightful to watch him come to grips with his emotions and work out how to save his job and reputation AND have Monique for a wife. And of course, his friends are more than happy to watch him fall to their level: that of a man deeply in love!
I enjoyed reading about a moment in history I hadn't even considered asking about before: how did Prince Leopold become King of the Belgiums? Even a version with a bit of a romantic fictional twist to it was more than I'd ever thought of before and definitely makes me interested to learn more about it. But even if you don't care about the history, or haven't read any of the rest of the Sinful Suitors series before, you'll love The Secret of Flirting. Fast-paced, with sparkling dialogue, plenty of wit and delightful characters, Jeffries' newest succeeds in keeping you glued to the page from first to last!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review