Review: An Affair with a Spare by Shana Galen (2018)

The Survivors, Book 3

Review of The Survivors, Book 1 here; Book 2 here.

Heat Factor: Toward the end

Character Chemistry: Sort of cute. Sort of didn’t care.

Plot: Spy meets spy (ish)

Overall: Didn’t work for me

The Survivors book the third. I was curious about Rafe, who is so handsome that women chase him to the point that he’s just tired of having all the sex. He featured in the first two books and seemed like he’d be charming. I didn’t love this result, but also the story was not quite what I expected it to be, so there’s that.

The premise of the series is that there are 12 soldiers who went off to the Napoleonic wars and have a special bond because they managed to survive numerous suicide missions throughout the war. Thirty unwanted younger sons of aristocratic families joined Draven’s suicide troop and 12 came home with emotional and physical scars (aside from the emotional scars they already have due to being unwanted by their families).

Rafe is the youngest of eight children, and his mother abandoned him when he was a toddler, so he’s spent his life being totally charming and congenial as a result. I was a little confused because in the first book there was a passing reference that Rafe’s family actively disliked him, but in this book he was simply the baby who was so well behaved he was sort of neglected. By the end, I thought his family really loved him, it was just so big that he felt left out and never asked for the emotional attention that he really needed.

Our fearless heroine is Collette Fortier, who is in London trying to steal encryption codes used by the British in their diplomatic missives. This is after the Napoleonic wars, so the missives are about some unknown who knows what, but we need a plot, after all. Collette is the daughter of Napoleon’s infamous assassin, and she’s spying because the Bourbons have locked up her father and he’s sick and she needs to rescue him. Rather adorably, when she forgets her English, she starts talking about hedgehogs because a scientific study of hedgehogs happened to be the English book that she had available to read. I would also be so awkward.

Rafe is no longer in Draven’s troop, and yet Draven assigns him to figure out what it is that Collette wants and kill her. How nice. The sort of funny thing is that Collette is on a mission, so although she (and every other woman in London, apparently) finds Rafe unspeakably attractive, she tells him to his face that he’s not because she really has to focus or her father will die. This sets up the story so Rafe finally has to work to capture a woman’s attention, with the result that he comes to care for her sincerely.

“I see.” He gave her a puzzled look. “You will forgive me if I’m at a loss. This has never happened to me before.”

She narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean?”

He shifted awkwardly and raked a hand through his hair. All of which served to make him seem even less like a god and more like a human.

“I mean, no woman has ever refused me before.”

And so it is that Rafe chases after a woman he’d never look twice at (of course) because he has to, and she tries to avoid him but can’t. And there is a great deal of convoluted should-trust-but-can’t business going on because Rafe knows Collette is up to something but can’t prove it and Collette thinks she might be able to use Rafe to get to Draven, but she’s also in danger because the Bourbons are out to get her, and she’s got a letter that will make everything better if only she had the codes to unencrypt it. There is so much lack of trust drama going on in this book, it just became an exercise in eye-rolling. There’s also during all of this drama the romance itself, in which Rafe thinks Collette is super hot (she has very large breasts), and of course everyone thinks Rafe is super hot. How – HOW, I ASK YOU – are they going to figure this out?

Collette never trusts Rafe, really, and decides to secretly leave England with her father (yes, that happens, in a big to-do in which Rafe is surprisingly incompetent as a fighter or even a prepared human being), even though Rafe insists that he sincerely wants to help her. Of course, his loyalties are absolutely torn, so it’s not entirely irrational on Collette’s part not to trust him fully. How can a good soldier betray his country by aiding not only a confessed spy but also her assassin father? How can a man betray his love? Poor Rafe!

This might be spoilery, so if you don’t already know what’s going to happen, read no further, but the ending was just so … I cannot contain myself.

By the time all of the excitement surrounding the appearance of Collette’s father resolves, I’m thinking this story is going to wrap with some modicum of predictable planning, but no. Forgive me for thinking that Rafe would get to a point on his own where he would plan to leave England with the woman he loves. OBVIOUSLY Rafe is going to leave England with the woman he loves. It’s either that or she somehow, with her assassin father, gets the world’s most improbable pardon from the British government. I applaud Galen for not taking this route, and yet I still do not understand the route she took. Rafe is torn. He’s wallowing a little bit. There is a very heartwarming scene between Rafe and his stepmother.

And then he realizes what he must do. What must he do? Apparently, Rafe must race through London to reach the ship sailing for America right this hot second with absolutely no planning, foresight, OR LUGGAGE. Or money, I daresay. He must declare his love while standing dripping with sweat and knee deep in Thames water (eww) in a sinking ship before being pulled onto the ship. I just- I mean- WHO ON EARTH WOULD IMPULSIVELY CLIMB ONTO A SHIP SAILING ALL THE WAY TO THE AMERICAS WITH NO CLOTHING AND NO MONEY? Does the ship even have enough provisions for an additional passenger? What is he going to do when he gets to America with literally nothing after being the pampered child of aristocrats his whole life? It’s not like Collette and her father have anything themselves.

Even if my eyes hadn’t had a crossfit-level workout from the rest of the story, I could not get over the ending. My practical soul just could not take it. It’s not romantic, it’s idiotic, and there’s nothing hot about that.

Buy Now: Amazon

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