A SHAMELESS ANGEL by Elizabeth Cole is book 3 in the Zodiac series and my first experience with Ms. Cole’s work. I was so taken that I purchased the first in the series when I was only a quarter of the way through.

A courageous codebreaker, a gentleman with a score to settle, and a past that refuses to stay hidden… Sarah Brecknell has always had an unusual obsession with numbers. After the unfortunate death of her fiancé, she’s lost her place in society, and her gift has left her alone with a dangerous secret. Sarah must turn to a complete stranger for help–a secret agent in service to the Crown. She has already made one mistake in love. She can’t afford another. Theodore Markham has plenty of secrets of his own, not least of which his occupation as a spy. Now he is hunting for a traitor. This time is different, though–the rogue was his best friend. The trail goes cold until he meets Sarah, a woman with extraordinary mathematical talents…and an irresistible charm that may be even more dangerous than his adversary. (Synopsis from Amazon)

Lord Markham ~ Unlike most heroes he’s described as not much taller than Sarah and she likens his features to a fox with his coloring making the likeness even more marked, interesting to say the least. Theo also isn’t portrayed as overly alpha or infallible.

Sarah ~ An intelligent heroine who spends most of her time in the Antheneum. Sarah goes beyond bluestocking, she’s a scholar with an affinity for making and breaking codes. Sarah is fluent in at least five languages, prefers books, discussions that have nothing to do with fashion or society, and leans toward socially awkward. Sarah is a highly relatable heroine.

Charlie ~ Sarah’s deceased fiancé. We only meet Charlie through others. He and his actions are catalysts for many of the events in A SHAMELESS ANGEL.

Alyse ~ Theo’s fiancée and childhood ally. Their families estates adjoin and they’ve know each other from the cradle. Unlike many women of the Ton, Alyse isn’t catty.

I found A SHAMELESS ANGEL to be an exceptional historical mystery/thriller.

Intelligently, descriptively, and sparely written, A SHAMELESS ANGEL isn’t excessively wordy or flowery, thank goodness. The style perfectly suits Sarah and Theo, staying true to their character’s natures and their personally unique journey toward what’s hopefully a HEA.

Personally I loved Ms. Cole’s voice, clean and uncluttered. Many spy and espionage based stories emphasize the glamour, glitz, witty repartee, and seductiveness associated with that life; A SHAMELESS ANGEL depicts a more realistic nuts and bolts portrayal that doesn’t skimp on the danger and action. There is an obligatory ball scene or two but the dresses and décor aren’t the focus, the characters are.

Theo first encounters Sarah at the Charlie’s graveside and then escorts her to his wake at his parent’s home. Theo and Charlie were boyhood friends and Theo is like a brother to Charlie’s sisters. Theo is struck by Sarah’s demeanor, reserve, and intelligence. While Sarah is lovely her appearance isn’t what Theo sees until much later. Theirs is an attraction of the mind first and foremost.
A clever twist or two keeps A SHAMELESS ANGEL from being predictable. Despite being the third in the Zodiac series A SHAMELESS ANGEL can easily be read as a standalone courtesy of the solitary and clandestine nature of the Zodiac and its agents. I found A SHAMELESS ANGEL to be an exceptional historical mystery/thriller. In fact, before I was a quarter of the way through it I purchased the first one. Highly Recommended.

Previous Books in the Zodiac Series

A Heartless Design

An enigmatic woman, a determined spy, and a love that could shake the foundations of Europe… “Heartless” Cordelia Bering refuses every marriage offer she receives. Yet men still try to win her, drawn by her sharp wit and intoxicating green eyes. But Cordelia knows a marriage could reveal her deepest secret and truly endanger her life. Besides, she hasn’t met a man worth considering, until… Sebastien Thorne, a spy in the service of the Crown. One of the elite agents in the group known as the Zodiac, he comes to London determined to solve a mystery with roots on the Continent. He won’t let anything distract him. But is Cordelia a distraction, or the key to the mystery? As he learns more about the “heartless” woman, he becomes embroiled in secrets, plots, and a design that could change the future…and Cordelia is at the center of it all. A Heartless Design is the first book in the Secrets of the Zodiac, a series that blends romantic suspense with the rich background of the Regency period.

A Reckless Soul

A seductive agent, a disillusioned lord, and a web of deceit only they can untangle… Sophie Bertrand is skilled in acting, espionage, and the subtle art of seduction. An independent spirit, she fought her way from rough streets to the top secret circle of spies known as the Zodiac. Her newest assignment is one of her most delicate yet: hunt down a traitor within Britain’s own government. But there’s a catch…this time she can’t work alone. Bruce Allander has a title, honor, wealth…but he’d trade it all to restore his family. The Zodiac gives him a chance for justice in a world that’s already taken too much from him. Now he finds himself close to this captivating Frenchwoman—possibly too close. Sophie defies all his expectations, yet in her he senses a kindred soul. Passion draws the two together, but a web of betrayals threatens to tear them apart. To survive, they have to trust each other. They have to be a little reckless… A Reckless Soul is the second book in the Secrets of the Zodiac.

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About the Reviewer

Ivy Truitt
Transplanted Southerner and avid reader. My tastes are eclectic. I discovered mysteries first then historicals in the era of Kathleen Woodiwiss & Rosemary Rogers. I was never able to finish Gone With the Wind, Scarlett got on my nerves too bad, but I loved Alaina in Ashes in the Wind. I also manage the guest author blog for Manic Readers. In addition to here you can find me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Librarything, & Riffle. Always up for talking about books, just gimme a holler!!