The Emperor's Agentby Jo Graham
1805: Europe stands poised on the brink of war.
Elza is content with her life in the demi-monde, an actress and courtesan in the glittering society of France's First Empire, but when her former lover is arrested for treason, Elza is blackmailed into informing on her friends and associates. She has one alternative-to become
Courtesan, actress, medium . . . spy.
1805: Europe stands poised on the brink of war.
Elza is content with her life in the demi-monde, an actress and courtesan in the glittering society of France's First Empire, but when her former lover is arrested for treason, Elza is blackmailed into informing on her friends and associates. She has one alternative-to become the secret agent of the most feared man in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte!
France's invasion of England is imminent, but a spy in the camp of the Grand Army threatens the secret plans. Taking the Emperor's commission to catch the spy means playing the deadly game of spy versus counterspy. However, this is no ordinary espionage, but backed by the power of the witches of England determined to hold England's sea wards against invasion. Only an agent who is herself a medium can hope to unravel their magic in time-with the life of the man Elza loves hanging in the balance.
From the theaters of Paris to the sea cliffs that guard the Channel, from ballrooms and bedrooms to battlefields corporeal and astral, Elza must rely on her wits, her courage, her beauty, and her growing talents as a medium for she must triumph-or die!
- Crossroad Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.61(d)
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I read an early draft of this novel, and had been eagerly awaiting the final version, which does not disappoint in the slightest. Elza (aka Ida St. Elme, aka Charles van Aylde) is one of the most fascinating protagonists I've seen in years, and her journey through the bedrooms, battlefields, and esoteric salons of Napoleon's Europe is absolutely gripping. Graham writes the Napoleonic military life as well as anyone working today, and her depiction of the Grande Armée in quarters at Boulogne is spot on. The games of spy and counterspy, of love and war, passion and magic, will keep you engaged to the very end.
This book didn't flow. It didn't catch up to itself until the final chapters. It was choppy. Felt like reading a bad translation. The ebook also had numerous errors that contributed to the sense that the book was 'choppy' at best. I can't believe B&N had this book on recommended lists that were mailed to customers.
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall: 2 Narration: 4 Story: 2 I really expected to love this story; historical fiction, intrigue, Napoleonic era, a woman serving multiple roles in an era when women were often little more than window dressing, Jo Graham has brought multiple elements into the story that should have had me devouring the story. I love historic fiction, and am always intrigued with stories from all sides, so the opportunity was too good to pass up. Although the fifth book in the series, this does stand alone as information regarding the heroine, Eliza, is clearly presented. Eliza was orphaned at a young age, married and widowed, and after her husband’s death, she is embroiled in several love affairs. Her affair with the one man she cannot forget, Michele, is a repeating element in this story, both in flashback and in current remonstrations. A bit confusing and less emotional than I would have hoped – most of the flashbacks are focused on the eroticism to show the connection, which never quite fit for me. But, I digress. Eliza has been recruited to ferret out the spy that is revealing secrets of the campaigns: Napoleon’s hierarchy is said to be concerned with the spirits that are guiding England in the war, and are using Eliza in some mystical way to commune with the spirits to bring them to the side of the French. While interesting, the author did not explain key elements of the whole connection and the purported use of Eliza for this. Additionally, her dressing in men’s clothes, taking the name of Charles because people treat her differently (even as they know she is a woman in men’s clothing) just felt trite and gimmicky to me –she makes no effort to contain her femininity and by her sheer power of will she gets her results. I was close to putting the audio away and not completing at this point. Graham’s writing is uneven: lyrical and beautiful in some places then choppy and vague in others. While the research that went into this story is apparent in the battle descriptions and actual timelines, the fiction got lost in a loosely directed overcrowded series of events and ‘must be in there’ elements leaving me more interested in the actual history. Narration is provided by Anne Hancock, and she uses her crisp delivery and careful attention to the plot to provide a pleasant listen. I didn’t find much emotional reality in the story, it seemed to feel more melodramatic or willful unfeeling moments from Eliza, and this was reflected in the narrator’s performance. Without adding elements that did not exist, nor overplaying the moments that did, Hancock presented this story clearly, with no missteps or overreach in adding elements that were just not supported by the writing. I’ve read several fictionalizations from this period, and of course non-fiction, but I would not be inclined to recommend this to all but the most dedicated of readers of this author’s work. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator via AudioBook Blast for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
More of the adventures of the wonderful, complex, flawed, strong, immensely likeable Elza - who, like Graham's previous heroes and heroines, is a real historical character, if far less famous than Alexander or Cleopatra. Known as Ida St Elme, she not only had the career this book explores; but she's also the author of 8 volumes of Memoirs, which became the best-selling book of the early 19th-century in France and beyond, earning her the nickname of "the female Casanova". (And you can find her actual "Mémoires d'une Contemporaine", written in French, recently-added at Project Gutenberg!) Courtesan, actress, medium, spy, soldier, wife, mistress, hostess, writer, this Dutch-born heroine lived through the French Revolution and the First Empire as a modern woman. Agent and counter-agent, she cross-dresses, fights, lies, reasons, sleeps her way through history, meeting a rich cast of characters whom, as a French reader, I recognise happily. This book, if anything, surpasses even the previous one - it can work as an into-the-deep-end introduction to the series, if you like to be plunged directly into the thick of things! Now if only this series could be translated into French......
No one does historical romance the way Jo Graham does. The characters, the settings, the action, it all combines into an epic story that places you directly in the era she's writing about. Strong female characters are a big part of what makes her books different, and this book is no different. Elza is a character who isn't afraid of violence and doesn't waste time being afraid of her own desires. At a time when women were subjugated and treated like second-class citizens, Elza was in complete command of herself and her world. If you've read Jo Graham before, you know the great writing that awaits you in this book. If you're new to Jo Graham's work, be prepared for an introduction to one of the best historical writers publishing today.