The Queen fairly screamed. "You failed in that charge and instead took it upon yourself to run about the castle after a Spaniard—and do not think I don’t understand the reasoning behind that little move.”
I’d chosen to run off after him, a young, handsome courtier who could possibly have nothing at all to do with the plot against the Queen.
What do you call a spy who falls in love?
Or she would be, if the events in this book had any level of veracity. The main "maid" spy within this book is so fucking incompetent, I can only breathe a sigh of relief that this book is, in fact, fiction. Had the "spies" in this book actually existed, we would all be speaking Spanish right now due to their complete and utter incompetency at saving England's throne.
Madre de Dios.
The Summary: The plot of this book revolves around an idiotically blunderbuss of a spy. Meg is a pickpocket, working for a threatre troupe in London, in 1559, when she gets captured. Yes, she gets captured. Keep this in mind, it will not be the first time she gets caught.
The blundering 17-year old orphan Meg is plucked from her life as a street urchin into the service of Queen Elizabeth herself. The newly crowned, Gloriana herself. Who just fucking out of nowhere selects Meg to be a super special secret spy.
Meg is absolutely horrified at being caught. I mean, this is TUDOR TIMES. People get tortured. Pickpockets are dismembered. Meg is right to fear for her life. Tudor punishments are no joke!
I’d expected their questioning to be painful—perhaps involving thumbscrews or white-hot tongs. And when they’d yanked me from my cell and marched me into to the foul-smelling heart of the Tower of London, my hands and feet bound with chains, I’d fully believed I would be humiliated, reviled, and left heartily wishing I was dead.
Instead, her punishment is worse. SO MUCH WORSE THAN TORTURE.
What they’d actually done was much worse.
In a dank and barren corner of the Queen’s dungeon, they’d...sat me at a table. Served me spiced wine. And explained my new life to me in clear and simple terms.
Yes. Because having a conversation and drinking wine is so much better than having your tongue chopped off.
For no fucking reason at all, Queen Elizabeth knows that Meg is fucking special, and recruits her to be part of a team of maiden spies. There are five of them, the seductress, the brilliant code-cracker, the deadly assassin, the seer/psychic, and the...uh, actress. Meg would be the actress. She is special. She will be the most vital of them all. Queen Elizabeth even says so herself.
There is a mystery to be solved. Queen Elizabeth's life and throne may be at stake. Meg has the power to save her. By the grace of god, I don't fucking know how, since she is so ridiculously ineffective, it's not even funny.
I Spy With My Little Eye That You're a Motherfucking Dumbass: There is no other word for it. Meg is a fucking moron. Why is she a spy? I don't get it. For one thing, Meg cannot read. She is educated to be a spy for 3 months, she is instructed on how to kill, the etiquettes of court, the social graces...and she has yet to learn to motherfucking read.
I learned Japanese hiragana in a week. I am not making fun of disabilities, Meg does not have a learning disability. She just simply cannot read. And she refuses to tell her instructor so that they can help her.
Madre de dios.
Meg thinks she is so brilliant that she constantly, consistently underestimates people. People like Sir William Cecil, Sir Francis Walsingham (actual historical figures, actual, very, very important, very intelligent, very cunning historical figures). The Queen. Her fellow maids. Meg thinks everyone is dumber than she is, and she is utterly flabbergasted every time when she is proven wrong.
My Other Name is Johnny English: Meg blunders through every single mission. She not only falls into insta-love with the possibly dangerous Spanish spy, Rafe Luis Medina, the Count de Martine, but she keeps getting caught in the process. She acts so DUMB. In the middle of a very important ball, Meg gets jumpy. Nervous. What does she do to ease her nerves?
To steady my nerves as I walked, I drew out my short blade. I cut a loose brooch from one courtier’s sleeve and slid a hairpin free of a lady’s elaborate wig, then slipped another woman’s jewel-studded cuff off her wrist as she pushed by me, intent on her laughing quarry. I tucked my plunder into the wide band of cloth at my waist.
SHE STEALS THINGS? IN THE MIDDLE OF A COURT WHEN IT WAS WHAT GOT HER INTO TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
It comes back to bite her in the ass when she finally executes her mission, only to find that she has no room to conceal the letters she has stolen BECAUSE HER POCKETS WERE ALL FULL BECAUSE OF ALL THE LOOT SHE'S BEEN STEALING.
I slipped the packet out adroitly and—
Nearly stopped dead.
My waistband was already full of stolen jewels.
She not only fucks up her missions, she gets caught in the act.
And just like that, I knew my mistake.
He pulled the letter out as quick as a breath, taking a sharp step away.
And just as I did so, a hand slipped over my mouth.
“Ah, sweet Meg, what am I to do with you?”
I was jerked off my feet by a powerful set of arms and hauled summarily into an antechamber before I even had breath to cry out.
My Love is Like a Red Red Rose That Nearly Gets Me Killed: Meg's incompetency isn't the only thing that gets into trouble. She's constantly thinking with her heart instead of her head. Even in the middle of a mission. The Count de Medina is a target. Meg forgets that he's a target, because maaaaaan, he's so fiiiiiiiiine. I mean, who cares about the fate of England, anyway?
I was taller than Beatrice, and more fit, but she had the kind of lithe beauty that men could not resist. I strained to see whether Rafe looked like he was enjoying himself. Surely he could see through Beatrice’s game and—
“Your report, Miss Fellowes.” Walsingham’s biting tone cut through my thoughts, and I looked up at him, suddenly peevish.
“Ah, yes, my report.” I barely constrained myself from spluttering the words.
Her heart gets in the way of everything. it puts her in danger, she compromises a mission for the sake of a stupid fucking romance that comes out of nowhere.
There is an incomprehensible amount of insta-love.
...in just that moment he turned his head, and our gazes met.
I almost staggered back, the force of our sudden connection like a physical blow. My heart seized in my chest, my eyes flared wide, and my feet were rooted to the rush-strewn floor. It seemed as if time itself held still for a moment, waiting in frozen anticipation alongside me. Did he know my heart was about to burst?
And for fuck's sakes, let's just throw in a love triangle, too, for good measure.
Miscellaneous complaints: Historical timeline inaccuracies, such as Walsingham's involvement at court. Terrible dialogue and a completely unconvincing Welsh accent. The speech is riddled with modern nuances, while trying hysterically to sound "archaic." There are sprinklings of "What, ho!" as well an baffling attempt at lower-class speech.
“Leave it! Leave it, ’e says,” I protested, to mask my growing alarm. “Then you’ll be ’avin’ both ale and shillin’s for me, you better believe. Orderin’ a good, honest woman to leave her clothes in the middle of the road where any sort of unnatural people might come across them. As I live and breathe, the Queen ’e says. As if the Queen would ’ave anything to do with the likes of ol’ Sally—”