Monday, April 19, 2021

Review: The Soldier and the Spy by Annabelle Greene

The Soldier and the Spy by Annabelle Greene
Series: Society of Beasts, Book 2
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Male/Male Historical Romance 
The Soldier and the Spy cover
ISBN: 9780369700124
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Carina Press

A beholden man finds himself falling for the war hero he’s destined to double-cross.

Three hundred pounds for one night of protection. It’s a job offer, but it’s also a ruse. Captain Benjamin Frakes, war hero and de facto head of the Society of Beasts—a club for gentlemen who prefer gentlemen—is tempted to turn it down. But August Weatherby, the sexy, brazen stranger making the offer, has captivated him completely.

August is hardly the flush flirt he claims to be, however. An indebted man, desperate to save his infirm sister, August makes an ideal pawn for a lord eager to bring down the Society of Beasts once and for all. But August’s charge to find evidence against Frakes is at odds with his own virgin desire to entice the captain into showing him the true meaning of pleasure.

As August’s infiltration pushes him deeper into the beguiling world of delights behind the Society’s closed doors, he and Frakes discover new ways to push the boundaries of their own cravings. But with mounting pressure to complete his devious mission, August finds himself torn between the man his heart yearns for and the sister whose life depends on his betrayal.

August Weatherby is a desperate man. His sister is ill and he’s made a muck of trying to get enough money to take care of her. He’s indebted to a vicious blackmailer who has it out for the founders of the Society of Beasts. In order to save himself and his sister, August has to bring down Captain Benjamin Frakes, the head of the Society. It was supposed to be a simple task: seduce the man, uncover his secrets. But sparks fly instantly between August and the curt captain and the longer his ruse goes on, the more divided August’s loyalties become. How can he betray the good man he’s falling for? Yet with enemies closing in on him, how can he do anything but?

There’s no sophomore slump in Annabelle Greene’s Society of Beasts series. The Soldier and the Spy is even more engaging than The Vicar and the Rake. I was sucked into August and Benjamin’s story from the first and wound up devouring it in one sitting.

Benjamin is the perfect soldier, which makes living in peacetime hard. After the events of The Vicar and the Rake Benjamin is left alone and in charge of the Society of Beasts. He’s heartbreakingly lonely and used to men who only want him for his reputation. August throws him off his game and though he wants to reject the arrogant young pup, he can’t stop thinking about him. As for August, he’s gotten himself into a total mess and he honestly doesn’t know what to do. He’s been raised to play roles which is the only tool in his arsenal left when the money runs out and his sister needs care. So when a blackmailer corners him and he feels he has no way out, he puts on a mask to complete the task.

I loved how fun and flirtatious August could be. He’s got a wicked sense of humor and it made me laugh to see him vex Benjamin so thoroughly. If it weren’t for the deception underneath everything, theirs would be a bright and bubbly romance full of banter. There is lightness in it, but underneath it all there are two types of mounting tension. The sexual tension as Benjamin tries to resist the lure of August is utterly delicious. When Benjamin finally gives in and takes what he wants, things get steamy. But it’s the heart and vulnerability both men show that really made me smile and sigh. The tension over August’s lies – his mission being to ruin a good and honest man – isn’t as pleasant. Normally this would be a big turnoff for me, but Greene makes it work in this story. There’s good character growth for both men as they fall in love and I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to see what would happen next for them as individuals and as a couple.

The Soldier and the Spy is the second book in the Society of Beasts series and Greene provides enough background information that if you don’t mind major spoilers for the first book you can jump in here. I loved seeing more of the Society and the whole secret world its members inhabit. I finished August and Benjamin’s book a well-satisfied reader and I’m very much looking forward to the next Society of Beasts book!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.