A Secret in Her Kiss
Constantinople, 1815. Outside an opium den, an attractive woman in Turkish garments and a handsome British officer in uniform are spotted kissing. Members of a mob that initially gathered to attack the major, believing that an Ottoman maiden was being molested, resort to cheers and sheath their swords upon seeing the fair lady’s curls and English features revealed upon the dropping of her veil. This was a ruse Mari and Major Bennett Prestwood had used to evade the sultan’s soldiers. It’s one of the many deceptions they employ in their mission. Mari’s unique skill in concealing the plans of Ottoman forts into sketches of butterfly wings lead to her recruitment as a British spy. Bennett, battle-scarred after Waterloo, is assigned as her “minder” so that she can complete the drawings, safely, of two more forts. Mari has secret wishes for Greek independence, inherited from her mother, and Bennett wants to return home as soon as possible. With the Ottoman authorities on their trail, passion and desires confront the two and further hamper their operation.
While unconventional Mari is somewhat like Heyer’s “Grand Sophy,” the setting of this Regency historical romance in Constantinople makes it a very pleasurable read although the historic minutiae are rather sketchy.