“It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.” - India Black.
As soon as I started this book, I knew I would love it. Narrated by Ms Black, we are drawn into wintry Victorian London where she is kept busy managing her brothel Lotus House. Chaos ensues when a regular customer, who also happens to be a government official, dies of a heart attack in her establishment.
In her attempt to get rid of the body and avoid the attentions of the police, she ends up getting caught up with more government official instead. It transpires that top secret information has been stolen whilst under her roof, and so India has no choice but to help get it back.
She teams up with a handsome British agent known as French, who she finds equally alluring and annoying. Her involvement becomes deeper and deeper and she becomes caught in a web of politics, spies and assassins that sees her on her way to becoming a madam of espionage.
From the moment India Black began her tale, I fell in love with her character. Sassy, sarcastic and clever, she suffers no fools and always likes to have the last word. Her flirtatious banter and interaction with the mysterious French is pleasurable to read and I can’t wait to see what further books have in store for them.
There are plenty of interesting characters sprinkled throughout and I loved how each has their own agenda which is not always apparent. There is lots of rich historical detail, political undertones, romance, crime and adventure, spun together by witty prose with saucy undertones. This story is cheeky in parts without being vulgar, and the level of sex (quite low) suited the overall manner of the story.
I really enjoyed this Madam of Espionage debut and I already have a copy of the second book, India Black and the Widow of Windsor, which I can’t wait to get stuck into. For a light hearted and naughty yet thrilling read, you should definitely give India Black a try.