Also by this author: A Gilded Lady, The Spice King, A Gilded Lady (Hope & Glory, #2)
Series: Hope and Glory #3
Published by Bethany House on February 16, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical, Romance
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Luke Delacroix has the reputation of a charming man-about-town in Gilded Age Washington, DC. In reality, he is secretly carrying out an ambitious agenda in Congress. His current mission is to thwart the reelection of Congressman Clyde Magruder, his only real enemy in the world.
But trouble begins when Luke meets Marianne Magruder, the congressman's only daughter, whose job as a government photographer gives her unprecedented access to sites throughout the city. Luke is captivated by Marianne's quick wit and alluring charm, leading them both into a dangerous gamble to reconcile their feelings for each other with Luke's driving passion for vital reforms in Congress.
Can their newfound love survive a political firestorm, or will three generations of family rivalry drive them apart forever?
The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden is the third book of her Hope and Glory series. As it concludes the series, I expected happy endings for all involved—Nathaniel and Caroline, Gray and Anabelle, and Luke Delacroix, as well. In the last two books, Luke was the character always in the background. He is the one whose story at which Camden hinted but never fully explained. Even then, readers began to understand his commitment to others and selfless heart, even when he engaged in reckless, seemingly mindless behavior. His past failures, though, nag him and burden his heart.
He is still recovering from his time in a Cuban prison at the beginning of The Prince of Spies. Immediately, the courageous Marianne tugs at his heartstrings. When grown men refused to cross thin ice, she scooted across the precarious surface to rescue a boy’s dog named Bandit. Luke, the chivalrous man that he was, goes to help. We quickly learn of Marianne’s work as a photographer at the Department of the Interior. Meanwhile, Luke’s greatest aim is to rip certain lawmakers from their positions of power. Their support of food preservatives had cost three people their lives and endangered many more. If Luke could prevent them from being reelected, he would.
What neither of them know, at first: their last names. Luke is a Delacroix, while Marianne is a Magruder. Their families hated each other. Their love was forbidden from the start. When I read this “Romeo and Juliet” cliché, I rolled my eyes. I enjoyed the warmth between Luke and Marianne. They find love in amid drama and a political maelstrom, but…the “we can’t be together because of family vitriol” annoyed me. I should have expected it prior to reading The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden, but I didn’t.
If Camden’s job was to make me abhor Marianne’s family, she excelled. The only characters I even remotely liked was the outspoken old grandfather and her nephew, Sam. All of the others were, for the most part, despicable. Marianne’s father was of questionable character. Her mother was overly dramatic and constantly ill. Her sister-in-law was haughty and judgmental. And her brother…I don’t even have words to describe him. He is the scum of the earth, for a multitude of reasons. With a family like the Magruders, of course Marianne would seek love elsewhere. Camden gives no indication of whether Luke is her first love—though we know Luke is certainly a ladies’ man—but it would not surprise me if he was. I wasn’t certain whether Marianne’s love was true and real, or whether she only fawned over Luke because he offered an escape.
An Example of Historical Fiction
Camden intricately and perfectly weaves history into The Prince of Spies. I knew very little about what occurred in D.C. during the early 1900s. I lived in D.C. for a time, and her descriptions made me go searching for photos—both current and historical—of the area I once called home. She also informs her readers all about the fight to provide oversight over food preservatives. I don’t want to give anything away in this area, so I’ll refrain from saying more. But I will say had I not seen her historical note at conclusion of the novel, I never would have believed something portrayed in the book existed.
I enjoyed The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden. I liked the entire series, though I think the second book was my favorite. Camden’s mastery of historical fiction is unsurpassed. She succeeded in making me interested in a genre that I often find disagreeable. A fun note: If you line the books up side by side, they make a complete picture!