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Regency Spies #0.5

While You Were Spying

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The latest addition to the REGENCY SPIES series, WHILE YOU WERE SPYING is the highly anticipated prequel to WHEN DASHING MET DANGER and PRIDE AND PETTICOATS .

Francesca Dashing would like to forget that Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, exists. He humiliated her in front of all of London Society—and he doesn’t even remember it! But when Ethan shows up in her sleepy Hampshire town, he’s hard to overlook, and his presence stirs up long-buried feelings. Francesca tries to keep her distance…until her life is threatened and the mysterious and handsome marquess comes to her rescue, in more ways than she ever thought possible.

Winterbourne has traveled to Hampshire on orders from the Foreign Office—he’s investigating an arms smuggling ring and is determined to find its leader. Miss Dashing stumbles into his way—literally—and derails both Ethan’s assignment and his ordered country life. Ethan knows he needs to ignore the distraction, but when Francesca is the victim of a vicious attack, he’s compelled to put aside his mission to protect her. Guarding the viscount’s daughter is work, nothing more, and Ethan has no plans to let down his guard…until Francesca’s chocolate-brown eyes and endless compassion melt the ice in his heart and lay siege to his defenses.

360 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 6, 2015

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About the author

Shana Galen

82 books1,461 followers
Shana Galen is three-time Rita award nominee and the bestselling author of fast-paced, witty, and adventurous Regency romances. Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Bookreviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.

Want to know more? Visit Shana's website at http://www.shanagalen.com and sign up to be notified when Shana has a new release http://bit.ly/ShanaGalenNews

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 51 reviews
Profile Image for Debbie DiFiore.
2,013 reviews217 followers
May 28, 2018
Galen is great!

I loved the hero Ethan and his obsession with Francesca! They were perfect together. I loved her compassion and love of animals. She was the ultimate heroine and was strong and not afraid to speak her mind. There is someone attacking her and believe me she fights back. She is no delicate flower. The hero adores her but has been burnt by love before by a trashy gold digger. I hated that he sometimes judged Francesca by the ex's behavior. I loved her family, especially her Mother and her fake italian accent. The Father was awesome too. There is intrigue, spying, smuggling, murder and madness and a great HEA. The villain is evil and a little crazy. His vileness was palpable. Luckily he got his in the end Loved this book so much. Shana remains one of my all time favorite authors.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books334 followers
May 23, 2019
It's been some time, but I remember liking the light historical romps and romantic escapades this author wrote and so I was delighted to discover to find this one tucked among all the audio files on my computer. A new to me narrator, the prequel to a series, and spies seemed the perfect choice when I was deciding on a few books to celebrate June is Audiobook Month #JIAM.

While You Were Spying is the prequel story for the author's Regency Spies series. I'm not sure if its one of those prequels that was written after some of the series books was released and works better read out of order or not, but I had no trouble starting with this one. And, lo and behold, I seem to have the next two books as well when I checked my shelf.

So, Ethan Caxton, the Marquis of Winterbourne and his brother are spying on a local farmer presumed to be an arms smuggler to the French. He is interrupted and nearly compromised in his work when a young woman on her own mission blunders in distracting him in more ways than one. But, he has an arms ring to smash up and now a headstrong young woman to keep out of danger.

Francesca Dashing was once humiliated at a society function by Lord Winterbourne and he doesn't even remember her. She bumps into him while attempting to save an abused colt from his abusive master. Something is a little off about the situation, but she's too infuriated by Winterbourne's high-handedness in dealing with the odious farmer. She wants to continue despising him, but the man gets under her skin.

This one started out as a fun romp with an oblivious do-gooder set on her course and a spy thwarted by her innocent activities. But, its not all light and feathers when the scars of from their pasts surface and explain a bit why they are the way they are, particularly Winterbourne who is harsh and unrelenting and really doesn't trust women or relationships after watching what happened in his own family and with other women. I don't mind the blend of the light frolicking with the heavier subject matter and was really rooting for this pair. Oh how I wanted something nasty to happen to Francesca's mother who was nigh on abusive to her daughter for her own ambitions. The narrator gave her just the right amount of supercilious fake graces.

But, I struggled a bit with this one because Francesca pulled a lot of stubborn-stupid along with way. She knows she's in danger, but what does she do? Yep, dashes off alone. Not once, but multiple times because she's on a crusade and that's all that's important. And, much of the time, I felt emotions and reactions got overblown in both of them. Ethan was a caricature of a broody experienced spy. The villain was so easy to spot and I don't just mean to the listener that it was hard to buy that these people were good at what they did.

However, if I didn't take it too seriously, it was an entertaining story and much in line with what I remember enjoying most about the author's other books. So, perhaps some of my niggles could be chalked up to mood.

As to Heather Wilds, I was right on board with her narration work within seconds of clicking on the story. Female, male, class status, pacing and tone were right on the button. Even when the characters were over-reacting, she didn't over-act the roles. I'm pretty sure I enjoyed this one as much as I did because I listened rather than read it. I'll definitely be seeking out more of her work.

All in all, this one hit the spot and reminded me that I need to pick up more historical romances than I have been lately and keep grabbing up this author's books in particular. I'd recommend this one for those who want an entertaining historical spy romance romp that isn't to be taken too seriously to appreciate it.

Profile Image for Kiltsandswords.
229 reviews29 followers
March 19, 2015
Shana Galen is a very talented author. One genre she does really well is writing about spies. I have fallen in love with her Regency Spies series, and this book is another great addition. She creates characters that are alluring, intriguing and relatable. What is so great about reading a book by Shana Galen? Well, you can count on the fact that you will be reading a book that will have you interested and engaged with the characters and plot. I’m always a little worried when I start to read a new book by a favourite author. Will it live up to the expectations I have? Will it be a letdown? With Shana Galen, I never have to worry – her work is always consistently amazing.
Francesca Dashing is like the colt she rescues from abuse. She is fragile, yet strong. She has such great spirit and compassion, yet has known cruelty. Francesca is a young woman who has returned to her beloved home after two seasons with the ton. She has broken an engagement to a member of the peerage and experienced a direct cut on a dance floor by a Marquess that made her the talk of the ton. She’s thrilled to be back home and in the bosom of her family. What I loved about Francesca is her caring nature. She cares for wounded animals in her hospital and takes such pride and urgency in her work. It’s rare to find a character who is settled in her life and not looking for more. At this time in her life, when the story takes place, she is comfortable. In some respects, as the story unfolds, you get the feeling she is hiding from disappointments she has faced.
Ethan is a great character. I love a story with a confident man. He is a Marquess (yes, that one) and also a spy for the Crown. He is investigating a smuggling ring that is taking place near his half-brother’s estate and coincidentally near Tanglewilde, the Dashing country estate. Ethan wears his power well. He comes across Francesca as she is mucking up his operation. From then the story involves the two of them. He is fascinated by Francesca and the more he gets to know her, he wants to protect her. Everything about her intrigues him. He senses that a man has hurt her and I loved that he tempers his actions toward her to make her feel safe. I could totally understand why Ethan was so fascinated by Francesca. She is a revelation and she challenges him. That’s like waving a red flag at a bull, although in this case a domineering Lord. When Ethan takes charge of the investigation and the events around Tanglewilde, he insinuates himself in her life.
This book had such great moments of humour. Francesca’s mother is hilarious! She went to Italy for her honeymoon and returned punctuating her speech with Italian. She prefers the Italian way of speaking, living and decorating. It’s such a great element of comedic relief. She is ridiculous and it was so enjoyable to see Ethan dealing with her. Just when things got heavy in the plot line, in would breeze Lady Brigham spouting a horrid mix of the Queen’s English and Italian. Ethan’s valet, Pocklingham, known as Pocket was also a great addition to the story. His horror over Ethan’s treatment of his clothing went beyond obsessive. I loved that he carried brushes in his coat and would whip them out to clean at random.
Since this is a spy story, the romance is interwoven with the plot. Ethan and his half-brother Alex are there to hunt down and stop an arms smuggling ring. They have been close to finding the culprits and when the attention turns to Tanglewilde, Ethan focuses on protecting Francesca. After a few attempts on Francesca, he takes a drastic course to draw out the assailant. In duty to the crown, he enters into a sham engagement with Francesca so he can move into her home and monitor the goings on. I really liked that Francesca’s father wasn’t cowed by Ethan’s stature and set limits to what shenanigans could happen under his roof.
The scene when Ethan tells Francesca that they are ‘engaged’ and that he is following her everywhere was amazing.
“There is no point in arguing, Francesca.” His face loomed inches from hers, and his nearness made it hard for her to concentrate.
Something about the way he looked at her unnerved her. His eyes had changed. There was more than harmless flirtation in them now. She tried in vain to scoot away.
“But, really, there’s no need…” Her voice trailed off as he put a finger to her lips.
“There is every need,” he murmured.
She caught her breath as his fingers traced her top lip lightly. Tingles skittered through her body, all the way to her toes. He was close enough to kiss her. And – her heart sped up – he looked as though he wanted to kiss her.
“I’ll be so close to you,” he whispered, “that the only time you’ll escape me is when you sleep.”
It is just such a great example of the relationship between the two. He tries to be dictatorial and she challenges and questions him, neither giving ground until a reluctant compromise is met. She tells him he is a ‘bad man’ all the time and he is desperately afraid of her crying. They were so good together. He exploited her love of chocolate tarts and gingerbread. He took a slow and gentle approach to wooing her as she was clearly traumatized from her time with Lord Roxbury. He encouraged her to eat when her mother would starve her voluptuous frame. In short, they were just such a great pair. The sexy time is pretty great too! Mindful of her mistrust of men, Ethan takes the long road to seduction and it is so worth it. The dance of seduction they do is a slow burn, but extremely effective. The trip they take to Winterbourne was awesome. I’d like to be trapped in a carriage with virile Ethan for a few days.
It’s always hard as a reviewer to describe why a book is great. Why it is a five star book versus a four star book. You want to provide a tangible reason to other readers why this is a book they must read. I struggle with this conundrum regularly. With this story, I can honestly say that they interplay between Francesca and Ethan was so compelling. When they were not in a scene together I missed them. I loved the characters Shana Galen has created. She writes sensual stories including all the elements that make a book amazing. Smart plotlines and smouldering glances make this book, like all her work, stand out amongst the hundreds of books out there to read. I was captivated by the complexity of the characters and compelled to keep reading to find out what would happen in this story.
This book comes out on April 7th and it’s a definite must read! Thank you Shana, for once again writing a story that captured my imagination and heart.
Reviewed for www.kiltsandswords.com
Profile Image for Vikki Vaught.
Author 12 books157 followers
March 24, 2015
Vikki’s Musings

When I discovered While You Were Spying, Spies Book 0, was coming out, I could not wait to read this upcoming release by Shana Galen, an author I have long admired for her delightfully witty and emotional stories. When the chance came up for me the read this book prior to publication, I immediately accept it for an honest review. As usual with Ms. Galen’s novels, I was pulled in right away and remained that way until the last page. I love that when it happens.

Francesca Dashing has given up on marriage after having suffered the abusive of her ex-fiancée. A man who belittled her, making her feel unattractive and that she does not have anything to offer another man. She spends her time in her hospital where she cares for any stray animals in need of care.

When an abused colt lands Francesca in the middle of one of Ethan Caxton’s—the Marquess of Winterbourne—covert operations, he has no choice but to save her from the irate owner of the animal. Ethan is a man she has been extraordinarily attracted to, ever since he danced with her during her London season. Even though, he embarrassed her by leaving her standing in the middle of the dance floor. When he saves her, she immediately falls under his spell.

When Francesca’s life is in danger, Ethan steps in to protect her from harm. He proposes an engagement between them to explain why her father would allow a known rake to stay in his home with his innocent daughter. After one of the attacks on Francesca, which places them in a compromising position, they hastily marry to avoid scandal.

Will Francesca teach Ethan to trust again, or will his past keep the wall surrounding his heart firmly in place, never allowing him to feel the full glory of her love?

Shana Galen has penned yet again, another fast-paced story with just the right amount of action and emotionally-charged scenes. I read When Dashing Met Danger, Spies Book one, many years ago and fell in love with Ms. Galen’s writing style and read all her releases at that time. Through the years, I have continued to read her adventurous tales of love and mayhem. While spy stories are not my usual choice, hers are so well-written and full of wonderfully executed sexual tension, I devour them.

While You Were Spying gives the reader everything the author normally delivers in a novel. Francesca is a marvelous heroine, kind, loyal and true, all qualities I love in the female protagonist. While she is strong and fierce when protecting one of her beloved animals, she is vulnerable as well. She had suffered much from her ex-fiancée, which undermined her self-worth and desirability. This is where the hero comes in and shows her she is very desirable and has tremendous value.

Ethan is a hero I always enjoy. He’s dashing, remarkably handsome and a bit of a bad boy all in one yummy package. On top of that he is a spy for his country, fighting to protect his king and country. He has also suffered terrible heartache and betrayal, making it difficult for him to trust in Francesca’s innocence and steadfastness. I thoroughly enjoyed his character’s growth as he struggles to accept his growing love for her.

While this story has all the humor and adventure I have grown to expect with Shana Galen’s writing, it also has many deeply moving scenes, one of which didn’t just make me teary-eyed, it had me wiping away the tears rolling down my face. I highly recommend this incredible tale of love overcoming past emotional hurts for both amazing characters. I’m confident that you will love them as much as I did. This is definitely a story I will read again. Happy reading!

Profile Image for Caz.
2,674 reviews1,010 followers
June 28, 2016
I've given this a B for narration and a C for content at AudioGals, so that's 3.5 stars overall

I’ve been enjoying Shana Galen’s current Covent Garden Cubs series, and even though I haven’t read either of her Regency Spies books, I thought that as While You Were Spying is actually the prequel to that series, picking it up without having read the others would mean I wasn’t missing out on anything I needed to know. Unfortunately, however, the story turned out to be mediocre and even the more-than-decent performance from Heather Wilds couldn’t save it.

Following a disastrous (and broken) engagement, twenty-one year-old Francesca Dashing has decided never to marry and to devote herself instead to caring for others and most especially to the sick and wounded animals she treats at the hospital she has created on her father’s estate. She lives quietly, doing her best to avoid her mother’s censure and unstinting desire to marry her off, but her peace is shattered when her determination to rescue a mistreated colt leads her into an encounter with the man who humiliated her in front of the ton at a society ball some years earlier.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.
Profile Image for Susan Gorman.
386 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2015

Shana Galen's regency spy books are must reads for me. They contain the right amount of passion, humor and adventure. Ms. Galen does not write a formula regency novel. Each one of her stories has unique characters and storylines. Ms. Galen writes characters - heroes, heroines and (gasp) villains -- that resonate with me. I loved her Regency Spy series and was thrilled to hear that she was publishing While You Were Spying, the prequel to her Regency Spy series.

Francesca Dashing falls into the Earl of Winterbourne's arms while she is sneaking around a neighbors stables. She is trying to help an abused horse. Winterbourne has been sent to Hampshire by the Foreign Office to investigate a local smuggling ring and capture it's leader. Francesca intrigues him and after she is mysteriously attacked Ethan is determined to protect her.

Ms. Galen has created a cast of memorable characters in this book. Both the heroine and hero have secrets. Francesca has returned home to the country after a broken engagement. She is strong willed, feisty and loves her chocolate treats and gingerbread. Francesca has a small animal hospital where she devotes herself to injured and abused animals. Winterbourne is a spy ; a very handsome, sexy spy with auburn hair and amber eyes. He is visiting his brothers estate to ferret out the leader of a local smuggling group. Winterbourne believes that the attacks on Francesca are not random. He senses that Cesca has not been totally honest with him concerning her broken betrothal with Roxbury. Winterbourne's valet, Pocket and Cesca's mother, Lady Brigham are my favorite secondary characters. Pocket has Ethan's best wishes in mind whether he is handing him a glass of brandy, brushing dirt off of his suits or helping him put together a romantic picnic supper. Lady Brigham is a hoot. She is quite busy trying to marry off Cesca to Ethan and her love of all things Italian will make you laugh (and laugh).

Shana Galen adds several additional elements to this story which make it stand apart from a typical regency adventure. The author includes two social issues which are not standard fare in a regency adventure; body image and physical abuse. Francesca's Mother admonishes her daughter in Italian when Cesca reaches for a chocolate tart when they share tea with Winterbourne. Lady Brigham announces to Winterbourne that "Francesca may not be la bella di famiglia --that title is usually given to my younger daughter--but you will not find a sweeter girl in all of England."

While You Were Spying is full of romance, intrigue and passion. The storyline is well - paced and the last few chapters are suspenseful. What sets this novel apart from other adventure stories is that the characters have everyday experiences. Both Ethan and Francesca have been disappointed in love, how they approach their situations adds authenticity to both their characters and the story. Can Francesca and Ethan put their pasts behind them and learn to trust each other?

I found the resolution to be rewarding. I just loved this book; from the very regency inspired cover to the chocolate loving heroine and her passionate hero to the suspense filled conclusion. Why You Were Spying is a must read for Ms. Galen's many fans!

Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,475 reviews83 followers
December 14, 2015
Original post:
WHILE YOU WERE SPYING by Shana Galen: Defining Moments


Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

This story is about the moments in one’s life that shape you, that define you.

There is one truly horrific reason Winterbourne is a spy, and it has to do with just such an event. And there is a reason he is about as likely to be a good, understanding husband as an old stick. He is, in my estimation, emotionally unbalanced – probably suffering from a sort of PTSD. A past experience with a scheming woman, and his mother’s second marriage create a confusing and contradictory need to protect Francesca but not to trust her. I actually thought the reaction he has to women and the concept of fidelity to be grossly out of proportion. Several of his behaviors in the book point to someone emotionally unhinged and unpredictable.

Of those two separate instances one is one that really stuck with me; it is pretty horrible and, at least for me, eclipsed everything else in the book and it completely shapes Winterbourne’s adult life. Yet, it only covers a couple of pages.

Francesca’s a sweet and endlessly compassionate woman. She has a magical veterinary ability, she is thoughtful to all around her. She’s like a sassy Snow White. And like Snow White, it is impossible not to like her.

The villain’s motives are transparent but his personality is not. I always thought of this villain as a Simon Legree character — twirling his mustache.

Francesca’s mother is a piece of work, and in voicing her the narrator really does a great job:she mispronounces and misuses Italian without indicating the ridiculousness of the character. The character takes herself very seriously and is not your average mother trying to marry off her two daughters. Actually, most of the characters have one or two traits that make them interesting; even unusual.

I had a hard time warming up to anyone other than Francesca; everyone else in the book seems intent on using her to their own ends, except the servants and the animals.

But, the story was exciting, edgy and, for all that I would have liked to seen her just tell Winterbourne to bugger off, had hot hook ups between the couple! And, I enjoyed the narration. But, because I never warmed to the characters’ relationship, it fizzled for me. If you have been waiting for this book, here it is. As a prequel, perhaps it is the first story in the series you would want to read.
Profile Image for Jo Anne.
204 reviews4 followers
May 28, 2016
I love Shana Galen's stories. In this one, Miss Francesca Dashing doesn’t care if she ever marries. After her one season in Town, which resulted in a disastrous past engagement to an evil man, she is much more comfortable living at her country home, where she has the freedom to care for her hurt or sick animals.

Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, thrives on his service as agent for the Crown. He’s visiting his brother’s estate in search of culprits who have been smuggling arms to the French. His cover is threatened by a meddlesome country miss trying to rescue a mistreated horse, so Winterbourne rescues her instead to control the situation. He dismisses her easily, but finds he can’t get her out of his mind.

Francesca and Ethan have a brief history, a dance at a ball in London, although at first he does not remember. Francesca remembers, since she fell in love with him that night, even though he embarrassed her in front of the Ton with his unfeeling actions.

I love characters who manage to heal themselves by their selfless actions to heal each other. Both Francesca and Ethan have serious emotional issues to overcome, yet the development of the romance between them is touching and sincere. And not far behind is the evil stalking them, adding danger to the mounting tension.

There’s also a cast of memorable secondary characters, from Pocket, Ethan’s valet, to Francesca’s over-the-top mom, and her stodgy, yet caring dad. It’s a fun and exciting read. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Kathy.
1,059 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2017
I couldn't put it down!

This romance has subtle undertones and nuances that make it captivating from the start. The characters are interesting and a few downright quirky. The healing of their past pains and the blossoming relationship between the main characters makes this book a delight!
Profile Image for Melanie.
922 reviews29 followers
April 14, 2015
This story is a prequel to the Regency Spies series and it hits the shelves [although you can pre-order anytime before] on April 7th.

As a long time fan of this author [until recently I was only five books short away from having ALL of her books!] I am always happy to find out she’s got a new book for me to devour.

She never fails to capture my imagination with her well written/plotted, fast-paced and always intriguing and complex characters. If an author manages to make you care for her hero and heroine, she has done her job well, and Shana does this to me with each story she tells.

Our heroine, Francesca, was such a breath of fresh air! Every time she pops in, I picture a “Pied Piper” [think stray animals] and just can’t help but smile. Her kindness and loyalty surprised me only because she was put through so much pain and I thought a lesser woman would have been bitter, but not this woman. Despite her vulnerability, she displayed strength that was second to none.

And then there is Ethan… sigh… This man was one of the dreamiest heroes I’ve come across lately. No joke! He’s not just handsome and dashing, seductive and appealing, but he’s a spy too! But what I loved about him too, was his vulnerability as well. His past prevented him to trust Francesca at the beginning, but once that obstacle was gone, watch out!

It comes as no surprise to me that I loved this tale. Shana Galen has a knack for telling spy stories that are intriguing, interesting and vastly entertaining. They are action and humor filled with a sensual romance at its core. But none of that would have mattered to me if I wasn’t connecting to the hero and heroine. It’s Shana’s characters that keep me yearning for more of her stories.

If your tastes run close to mine, and if you like to laugh and cry while rooting for the villains to get their just deserts, than you must read this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author
Profile Image for Anna.
Author 46 books135 followers
July 19, 2017
Warning: This book could cost you sleep. You won't want to put it down before the last page is read!

Francesca Dashing felt her chance at love and happiness had missed her. Her betrothal to Lord Roxberry had been broken- by her. She felt they didn't suit-and wanted more in her life. Her 'more' was her animals-the ones she saves whenever they become sick or injured. Her father's servants and the village surrounding their estate bring any injured animal her way.

Ethan - The Marquis of Winterbourne- was a rogue by choice. Several years earlier the woman he was in love with and engaged to marry crushed his heart - and shattered all of his trust in women - any woman. She cheated on him with the man that had been his lifelong best friend. Ethan had no intention of ever marrying. And he was dedicated to his work - as a spy for the Crown. His most important case in a long time is trying to piece together how France spies are working.

Francesca runs into Lord Winterbourne and begins to realize that the man she has had a lifelong crush on - and who embarrassed her before the Ton only a year ago- could possibly be the perfect person for her. They meet at her neighbor's, each for different reasons. But sparks fly placing both in danger of losing their hearts.

But their pasts could be the one problem that no one can solve. Trust is a big issue for both of them- having both survived a poor relationship prior to meeting each other. And inability to trust could be what spoils their chance for a happily ever after.

Shana Galan has a knack for Regency spy novels. She makes them interesting, quick paced, and fills them with interesting characters. This was no exception. Francesca is a wonderful heroine. And Ethan comes across as a man that every woman might want to tame.

I enjoyed the story of Francesca and Ethan very much.

I encourage everyone that loves 'Regency with adventure' to read this!
Profile Image for Jean.
91 reviews6 followers
August 14, 2017
"While You Were Spying" by Shana Galen
A Regency Spies Novel
Francesca Dashing was secretly looking through a window into a crumbling mud building at a poor ill used colt she had intention of saving from his fate when the bucket she was standing on lurched from under her and she pinwheeled helplessly backwards tumbling into a wall of hard, unyielding muscle. The man pulled her close to him with one arm while he covered her mouth with the other.
The Marquess of Winterbourne was sent to Hampshire by the Foreign Office to find the leader of the local smuggling ring. He was investigating the owner of the colt and didn't want to be found snooping around his place.
Francesca turned and recognized the man who left her in the middle of the dance floor last season. Leaving her caused quite a scandal but Ethan, the Marquess of Winterbourne didn't even remember it much less remember her name. She had gotten betrothed shortly after that scandal but she backed out of that for reasons of abuse by her fiancee which she never told anyone about. After her failed engagement she again turned to caring for animals with a vengeance like the abused colt.
Ehan, had been betrothed with the love of his life but came upon her cheating with his best friend. He left love behind and dedicated his life to serving the crown.
Later Francesca was attacked as she was leaving her animal hospital on her estate. Ethan had the feeling that the attack was connected to the smuggler as the owner of the colt was killed the previous day. Ethan felt he had to protect her.
Francesca still had a crush on him but could she trust him?
Could Ethan trust her? Could he keep her safe?
Lot of Intrigue and suspense.
You can't go wrong reading anything by Shana Galen. I really liked this book in her spy series.... Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Danielle.
922 reviews131 followers
April 12, 2015
Shana Galen has done it again! There is a reason Shana Galen is one of my all-time favorite authors and after finishing While You Were Spying, it just solidified her place on the list all that much more. From beginning to end I was transfixed and found it difficult to put this book down. It was packed with action, heat, sexual tension and terrific banter...pretty much everything that I love when reading a historical novel.

I found the chemistry between Francesca and Ethan was fantastic. They just had this instant connection and I just adored these two to pieces. I liked that they brought out the best in one another. Honestly, I just loved these two characters and I just couldn't help but turn the pages for more. I loved that Francesca was smart and caring and she wasn't afraid to be herself. As for Ethan, I loved how protective he was with Francesca. Really, I just loved these two together.

I can't wait to read the rest of this series. Shana Galen was able to create this world and filled it with characters that I just want to see more of. I can't wait to see what happens with everyone else. While You Were Spying is a fantastically suburb story and I just couldn't get enough.
Profile Image for Ann Marie.
53 reviews14 followers
September 18, 2015
More like 2.5 stars but I love Shana Galen’s writing and that deserves at least an extra ½ a star. That being said, this book just frustrated the hell out of me. I liked the plot and idea of the story but I found the heroine irritating. She really was TSTL. She repeatedly ignored everyone that tried to protect her and keep her safe by continuing to go out by herself after she’d been attacked…more than once! She even ignored her intuition when she felt something was wrong. And then I couldn’t believe it took everyone until the end of the book to figure out who the attacker was. Seriously? A trained spy? Sheesh! I mean I had it figured out early on and then it was like watching a scary movie when you yell at the idiots not to go out into the woods at night to investigate a noise. It was just as annoying to read as it is to watch.
Profile Image for Karen.
26 reviews11 followers
April 14, 2015
I really enjoyed this story. It was a long time coming, but so glad it was finally written.

Francesca is a caring, nurturing young woman who hides her fears by showering injured or stray animals with her love and devotion. She had the strength to break away from an abusive fiance but could not find the strength to trust and love again. Ethan also suffered from the pain of a broken engagement and a faithless fiancee. Quite a pair these two were. Through some fits and starts, the pair come together and learn to love and trust each other.

I thought this was an excellent story, one of Shana's best. I'm looking forward to more good stories from her soon. My rating...5-stars...buy this one..you won't regret it!
Profile Image for Abigail.
63 reviews7 followers
August 22, 2015
A prelude to my favourite series by Shana Galen. Throughout the book, the readers are given hints to the emotional and physical pain the H&H have been through to make them the way they are and what makes them react the way they are. Highly recommended for those who love a thrilling adventure.
363 reviews
August 3, 2021
2.5 could have been 4
Francesca & Ethan

If I settled on 2.5 stars but say it could have been 4, why didn't I mark it 3? Good question.

I really liked this book to start. I smiled and may have even laughted out loud at one point, but as the book went on I was more and more disturbed.

Here are the spoilers. There's not 1, not 2, but THREE attempted rape scenes and in a really tone-deaf fashion the author followed 2 of them with sex scenes. I'm just saying, the last thing a battered and abused woman needs moments or hours after being attacked is sex.

The way Francesca is able to compartmentalize the two sex acts is incongruous with the fairly clear portrayal of the physiological after effects of the abuse she sustained from her ex-fiance...so on the one hand you have this young woman with a compulsion to save all the animals (because she couldn't save herself), who flinches at sudden movements and has a diminished self esteem (doesn't think she's beautiful/worthy); but the same character can literally flip a switch between the terror of rape and the intimacy of love making.

What author puts that much effort into writing a well developed character just to flatten them in an instant? ...Well it's a romance novel, the audience expects steamy sex scenes. Yes, true, but romance is also about being loved, cared for, and protected, which for all of Ethan's vows to do so, he's as bad as Francesca's father at actually protecting F.

I also didn't love that Francesca had like 10 nicknames or variations on her name and Ethan had more than a handful too. It felt like the author actually could not decide on a name for her heroine.

Francesca's parents were also annoying. Dad was at turns supportive and tyrannical and mom was just clueless and the terr-ee-blé Italian was not so much amusing as it was tedious.

The villain was one dimensional and predictable. Are we really supposed to believe that the first word he uttered to Francesca in the first attack she wouldn't have immediately been able to identify her ex-fiance? And did he really need to be a murderer, rapist, abuser (verbal and physical), arms dealer, smuggler, and traitor? I mean jeez, one begins to wonder about Francesca's powers of observation. Though I suppose only some of his crimes began during their relationship. I just think there was the opportunity to split the smuggling from the attacks to add a little mystery in a "spy" romance. Instead we were hit over the head with the gloves and nicknames, like yeah, we know who the bad guy is, why can't the hero and heroine figure it out.

So did I like anything about the book? Yes I did. I thought it started strong and I liked both main characters. I thought Galen put a nice amount of effort into developing the characters, but by midway I was starting to lose hope and the last third I had to push through just to finish.

I will try other books by this author, I hope they aren't so assult/abuse heavy as this one was.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jordan.
1,374 reviews
March 27, 2021
The emotional maturity was a bit lacking in this one. Every Time there was a little blip in the road they were immediately entirely certain that the other had never actually cared for them at all or something. Just nonsense. The mystery was very transparent almost from the start, which isn't a huge deal, because I'm reading for the romance rather than the mystery (though I certainly would have appreciated an interesting mystery!), but on top of that it was treated as if it were all an unfathomable mystery to solve. The last clues were kind of teased out, as if the reader needed any more evidence by that point, and the characters were all shocked as well. I just felt like, 'what? really?? when it was all laid out so blatantly in front of you I'd assumed you'd caught on. but you're still astounded? oh wow... lol'. And, I will say, no one ever deserves to be attacked, even if they've done something really dumb, but, how many times can you just blithely waltz into danger when you know there's a villain loose/after you, before your head needs to be examined?? All of that complaining aside though, the writing was pretty decent and I was entertained. So still 3 stars.
Profile Image for Adélie.
214 reviews
March 17, 2022
Awesome story! Even though it’s very obvious who the bad guy is and it was frustrating that Francesca wasn’t putting two and two together lol. But it wasn’t annoying to the point where it got in the way of enjoying the story. The intrigue was very good and I loved the pace of the plot and where it went. I also loved all the characters. I soooo identified with Francesca and how she had her self worth absolutely shattered by her abuser and felt so empowered watching her build herself back up. She’s so brave and gorgeous inside and out I love her. And her obsession for chocolate haha. Her puppy was my favourite! He’s so cuuuute omg! Also really loved the hero Ethan. So identified with him too and having trouble trusting after being betrayed. That story was just so sweet and heartwarming. It’s about trusting again after having horrible people hurt you. And I loved the whole spy plot. Yet another regency romance book with a cringe cover that I thoroughly enjoyed :)
Profile Image for Amber.
996 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2023
Francesca has always been in love with Ethan even after he walked off the dance floor mid dance the first time they met. Ethan doesn't remember ever meeting the tiny brunette he rescue's from a mean old farmer that's beating his horse, but he can't seem to get her out of his mind.
He goes out of his way to keep running into her and he winds up saving her life a few times because for some reason someone seems to be out to get her, he's not sure if it's connected to the smuggling operation he's trying to uncover or not but he's not willing to take the chance and he decides a fake engagement is the way to go.
This is a bit more intense for a prequel as this one includes physical abuse and attempted rape but it was still an interesting story.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
783 reviews167 followers
February 16, 2017
The narrator of the audio version of While You Were Spying was a huge benefit to this one. There way too many illogical moments and the thought process of characters didn't always make sense. However, the narrator was fantastic and really added something to the story. So, while this one is not my favourite historical romance by Galen, it is still entertaining and I recommend that audio fans check this one out.
57 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2020
Blech. Super gross and controlling male lead. Doesn’t respect the heroine or women in general. I barely managed to finish it but I was hoping that the mystery piece would be interesting. It was entirely transparent, which would not have bothered me overly much if the romance piece was good. Wanted the heroine to just tell the guy to sod off like 18 times. He respected neither her choices, her privacy, nor her bodily autonomy. Gross.
577 reviews5 followers
May 29, 2017
Love and Trust

Love to read books about spies! This one is another good book by Shana Galen. Ethan and Francesca engagement starts out as a temporary but ends up in a marriage. Both have old hurts and trust issues from previous engagements, but love can turn up when you least expect it.
10 reviews
January 1, 2019
I did not finish this book. The romance was completely unbelievable. I feel one thing that historical fiction has really got going for it is a richness of setting, and that’s just something I didn’t get from this book. There were not enough details, it kind of just felt... like a bad Wattpad romance. Right. Don’t think there’s much I can say beyond that.
Profile Image for Kathy Brickert.
2,491 reviews9 followers
July 5, 2017
Always a winner

You can't go wrong reading anything by Shana Galen! This one was very lovely. Kept my interest and I read it almost nonstop! Hope to read any more. I do enjoy this spy series. Good read!
Profile Image for Susan.
277 reviews54 followers
July 8, 2017
So glad to discover this book because I had missed in my Shana Galen reading marathon. It went straight to the top of my To Read list and I really enjoyed seeing the beginning of the Regency Spies series.
Profile Image for Rachel Grace.
383 reviews14 followers
June 27, 2021
2.5 stars I liked the writing and will definitely read more from this author in the future I liked the first half but it dragged toward the end and the twist for who was responsible was super predictable.
Profile Image for Pili.
1,163 reviews216 followers
August 22, 2017
This was my first Shana Galen book and it won't be my last, although it's not on the list of my top faves, I really enjoyed the banter between the characters and the chemistry was excellent!
Profile Image for Jo.
705 reviews
July 31, 2019
I enjoyed this despite the likeable heroine being TSTL on more than one occasion and the hero being a terrible spy and a sulky toddler.
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