Winn, code name Baron, is getting too old for this shit. Climbing across rooftops, getting shot at, gatecrashing balls? It’s all too much. Luckily, his wife Elinor is solid, reliable, and precisely where he’s always left her. At home, waiting for him. That is, until after fourteen years of marriage, Elinor decides to stop waiting and go to the ball herself.
While at the ball, Elinor is spotted by a rival operative who quickly identifies her as Baron’s wife. This spirals us down a plotline that is ever so slightly related to the 1994 action/comedy True Lies. The wife does begin a flirtation with a man pretending to be a spy, without knowing her husband’s true profession. She is drawn into foiling a terrorist plot. Everyone is captured. There is a scene reminiscent of the famous strip tease. But the plot isn’t so much a retelling as a loose guideline.
This is a sequel to 2011’s Lord and Lady Spy, and it brings back Adrian and Sophia to team with Winn and Elinor in their continued efforts to take down Fonce, the villain from the first book. Most romance novel sequels, you can skip around the series without it effecting the plot. Not really so here. Wolf and Saint are reintroduced, but the majority of the world building is left to book one. That’s not a bad thing, but again, I recommend staying in series order.
Without world building to weigh down the plot, and a great deal less bickering and babies, I enjoyed True Spies more than the original. I found it charming and lightly humorous. There were a few scenes that stuck in my craw, mostly the sniping after the first kidnapping. It was petty and didn’t make hero or heroine look good. The action scenes weren’t overly tense or exciting either, making that first “daring” escape pretty underwhelming for all the bickering about it. And the climactic end was...a little too neat, a little farcical. It didn't particularly work for me.
I will say I enjoyed the seduction test. I thought it was the standout scene, and made excellent use of the dual points of view. Elinor’s naiveté at her effect on Winn was delightful, particularly after being able to experience that effect first hand from his POV.
Blue continues to be a standout side character. His "rendezvous" with Elinor early on was actually pretty hysterical. Likewise, Adrian and Sophia were good to see. They were deployed just the right amount in the plot so it didn't feel like they overshadowed the new couple. I could have done without the babies side plot again and the woman's intuition side plot again, though. Can't Sophia just be smart and resourceful without her magic itching nose?
To conclude, a fluffy spy romance that isn’t overly special. I liked a few scenes, thought the end was a bit soft, but in all, it was an improvement on the first and a perfectly charming way to lose a few evenings.