She had a secret she'd do anything to hide.
Agatha Cunnington, a headstrong beauty from the country, has come to London in search of her missing brother James. The only clue she has is a cryptic letter signed The Griffin. Agatha decides to disguise herself as a respectable married woman so that she can go about the city unnoticed. But for her charade to work she needs a suitable "husband," preferably someone tall, elegant, and rakish-someone like Simon Montague Rain.
He had a secret he'd do anything to hide.
Simon Montague Rain, also known as The Magician, is a member of The Liar's Club, a renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown. When someone begins murdering members of the undercover cabal one by one, Simon is given the mission to bring in The Griffin, one of his comrades who is suspected of betraying his brothers. Simon goes undercover and infiltrates the home of "Mrs." Agatha Applequist who he believes is the Griffin's mistress. Before Simon knows what's happened, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Agatha's soft, feminine charms-and he is tempted beyond reason to break the first rule of The Liar's Club: never fall in love.
The Pretender is the first book in the Liar's Club series and I absolutely adored this book. Agatha Cunnington is looking for her brother James who has gone missing for 2 months now. She leaves for London, marrying an imaginary man named Mortimer Applequist to help her get her way to London with minimum hassle. However, it is harder to maintain an imaginary husband once Agatha has settled in a townhouse and now that she needs to travel among the Ton to seek clues to James' whereabouts. She needs a man to pretend to be Mortimer. She believes she has found the perfect gullible man in Simon Rain, a supposed chimney sweep who happens to be there at right time and place. I love Simon. his occasional lack of polish at times can be so adorable. And Agatha (I love that she wasn't made as a pencil thin and beyond beautiful, just wonderfully ordinary), is exuberant, charming, can tell the wildest tales if she has to, and best of all, she's no innocent dingbat despite being a virgin, she's no martyr, and she is not stupid. Her plans make sense, she has a strategy, and she actively aids Simon rather than acts as a liability. When the novelty of a heroine who isn't dingbat personified fades, there is enough sparking fizzy chemistry and sexual tension between Agatha and Simon that kept me riveted.
She snorted "Simon, I practically ravished you." He grinned, "I know, I feel so cheap".
I describe this book as a romantic suspense in the 1800's. I am not a historical reader, they don't usually hold my interest, but The Pretender had a great mix of the old world, plus introduced the readers to the Club of misfits that protect the crown at all cost, even at the cost of their own lives. Agatha was a complete fun to read, she has sass with smarts and wits. Simon was enough to make you swoon. If I had one complaint about this book is at times, it seemed a bit descriptive for me, but that was easy skimmed and overlooked as the story itself was wonderful. Can't wait to download that next book The Impostor (Dalton's book)