"1865—Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle—a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for—has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?
Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him—it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.
Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?"
This could very well be my favorite of the "Culper Ring" series, although I thoroughly enjoyed each installment. Circle of Spies starts out with some introductions that left me skeptical. Marietta's relationships and attitudes are rather convoluted at first, and Slade is so detached and sullen. It took reading through about the first quarter of the book before I officially got hooked - but once I was, there was no turning back!
One of my main qualms with Book 2 (Whispers from the Shadows) was that the beginning impressed me, but I was hoping for a little more from the latter part of the book. It was the other way around for Book 3. Not that the beginning isn't interesting - not at all! But I'm a romantic, so I was a little overeager for things to turn around for the hero and heroine. Yet the somewhat "slower" beginning blossomed into some remarkable character growth and changes that left me happy and definitely invested in their stories.
With several subplots all intertwining, there's a lot to keep track of, but I was still a bit surprised that some revelations took so long in coming for some of the characters. Yet there's enough suspense and danger to keep tension high regardless of the more obvious connections that go unnoticed for a time. The plot is overall intricate and intriguing, and I loved the balanced weaving of romance, conflict, and secondary characters into the mix.
Circle of Spies offers a stunning portrayal of repentance and regeneration, as well as a touching look at love and hope surviving the darkest of times. It's an exciting albeit bittersweet conclusion to the "Culper Ring" series, and one not to be missed by fans of historical romance.
*With thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Reviews for the Rest of the Series
- Ring of Secrets (Book 1)
- Whispers from the Shadows (Book 2)
- Fairchild's Lady and A Hero's Promise (Bonus Novellas)