This is my second foray in Tracy Grant/Teresa Grant's Charles & Melanie/Malcolm & Suzanne series. Chronologically I believe this is the last book, although I believe this is the first book written in publication order.
The only other book in the series I've read so far is [b:Vienna Waltz|9341394|Vienna Waltz (Charles & Mélanie Fraser #3)|Teresa Grant|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1292797964s/9341394.jpg|14224721] which is a several books prequel to this one. In that one Charles and Melanie had only been married for about a year and a half and were still learning each other. In this book they've been married for about seven years and have a settled relationship.
On the one hand I like these people. I like how twisty Charles and Melanie's minds work. They are shady agents for the crown, they carry around pistols and knives, they can speak several languages (always unaccented like a native), they get shot or shivved and grit their teeth and carry on only with a whiskey soaked bandage, and they have fraught conversations about 'Honor' and how 'war is hell' and they quote Shakespeare a lot.
I also liked the central plot which involved Charles and Melanie's young son being abducted. To get him back they must use their unique skills to retrieve an old and valuable heirloom ring the kidnapper wants.
But on the other hand there is something about this book that prevented me from just hands-down loving it like I feel like I should. I think there is just so much...stuff... going on that I feel like the author is trying too hard to make me gasp in shock. Dizzying revelation follows after dizzying revelation after shocking twist. All of the action in the book takes place in roughly a two day span. It felt like it was almost against the laws of physics for everything to have happened in the time that it did. Not just the physical wear and tear of the characters careening around England with no sleep and with various bullet or stab wounds, but the emotional stuff as well. There were some pretty devastating secrets revealed by quite a few characters that profoundly affected their close relationships and yet two days later later...pouf! all is forgiven.
One thing this book made crystal clear for me is that I have no interest in going back and reading the other prequels. After all the stuff that was revealed in this story, any relationship that the author builds for Charles & Melanie in the preceding years simply won't satisfy me, any more back-story she chooses to explore will not hold my interest. I need to see where they go from here. I couldn't go back and read about what they did before knowing what I know now.
Added to that there is a level of continuity that feels like it is missing with the prequels being written after this book. For instance the central mystery of one of the earlier prequels, [b:Vienna Waltz|9341394|Vienna Waltz (Charles & Mélanie Fraser #3)|Teresa Grant|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1292797964s/9341394.jpg|14224721] involved a character Princess Tatiana that had a close personal relationship with Charles. The events in that book had a huge personal effect on him. And while Charles & Melanie's time in Vienna is alluded to in this book, at no point is Princess Tatianna ever mentioned. There were some key points where Charles is musing about his life and childhood and his family where Tatianna really should have figured in his thoughts. And there is especially a point at the end of this book when a character very important to Charles dies that would have been a natural point for Charles to reflect on Tatianna as well. So that is a major flaw in the continuity for me.
So I did enjoy this book enough to want to read a follow up that follows this book chronologically, but I really think I will pass on the prequels.