30 July 2020

The Gentleman Spy | Book Review, Q&A + Giveaway


He only wanted a duchess for a day―but she's determined to make it a marriage for life.

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she's meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life―as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She's determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society―the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she'd remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release Date: July 28, 2020


The Indebted Earl


Erica Vetsch’s Serendipity & Secrets series continues with The Gentleman Spy!

As the new (and unexpected) Duke of Haverly, Marcus needs a duchess, and wallflower Lady Charlotte Tiptree seems like a not-too-demanding choice. Upon marrying, he believes he can continue with business as usual—settling into his new title, while still spying for the Crown—but of course, she will not be set aside so easily.

After enjoying The Lost Lieutenant, I am so glad that The Gentleman Spy did not let me down. The Regency era once again shines throughout the story, as I got to know Marcus and Charlotte and see them sort through the complications of their marriage. It was a delight to read from beginning to end, and I cannot wait to continue the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.


Q: For those who haven’t read The Lost Lieutenant, give us an introduction to Marcus Haverly.

Marcus was such a fun character in The Lost Lieutenant because he always seemed to know more than one would think, pop up when he was needed, and be so comfortable in his own skin. He could move in a variety of circles, both high society and those of lower rank. He was mysterious, intriguing. A handsome stranger who always seemed to be in control of his situation.

I knew that in the second book, I wanted to disturb Marcus. He was much too comfortable in his role in The Lost Lieutenant, and I knew he would need to be pushed out of that to reveal more about his character. Marcus needed to learn that control is an illusion, and that when it comes to dealing with people, relationships can be untidy.

Q: Marcus had his life and path pretty much set as the second son of a duke. What happened that shook up his plans? What are his responsibilities now that he is the duke?

Marcus enjoyed being a second son and had come to peace with not being in the limelight. He had reconciled himself to being second in his parents’ affections and interests too. But when his father and elder brother are killed, and his brother’s child is born a girl, the title falls to Marcus.

He now has the responsibility for an estate, for his father’s and brother’s widows, for bearing the title and taking his seat in the House of Lords, and for participating in his country’s government, in addition to the social obligations that come with being a titleholder.

The trouble is, he doesn’t want any of it. He has his work for the Crown (which is now in jeopardy), his freedom (which his mother is anxious to curtail), and his future (which is totally being undone by the women in his life) tidy and organized.

Q: Being the second son and single meant that no one paid much attention to Marcus’s comings and goings, which was ideal for his life as a spy for the Crown. What did his work as Crown agent entail?

Marcus is involved in both intelligence and operations for the Crown. With England engaged in a protracted war with France, the need for intelligence was great. And the home front was no different. Marcus keeps tabs on various people’s activities.

I created Marcus to be a sort of “eyes and ears” of a fictional branch of the Home Office. He has a network of informants, and he has the ability to go undercover and interact with individuals who are socially distant from the salons and ballrooms of society.

Upon occasion, Marcus has worked as a spy, infiltrating France to gather intelligence, but now that he’s the Duke of Haverly and his actions are scrutinized more closely, he fears his work as a spy is in jeopardy.

Q: Though separated by two hundred years, readers will be sure to relate to your heroine, Lady Charlotte Tiptree. Can you share with us what her obsession is?

Charlotte loves books. She loves all books, but she has a passion for history books and novels. I guess you could say I patterned her a bit after myself since those are two of my passions. Her most precious possessions are the books in her little library, each one saved for, planned for, and loved. It was a joy to write Charlotte because of her pleasure in books—the look, feel, smell, and the words! Oh, the words!

At the time of The Gentleman Spy, Charlotte’s interest lies in ancient history, Greek and Roman to be exact. I always envision Charlotte moving from one historical era to the next to learn as much as she can. She has an insatiable curiosity about the past.

She also loves to escape into a good novel. Because her homelife is less than ideal, she feels safest and happiest when she can fall into the pages of a book and get away from her reality.

Q: Why was it so scandalous for a woman to read books, and especially read a newspaper, during this period in history?

Chivalry and the protection of women were a large part of proper English society during the Regency, and it was feared that too much academic work or exposure to the more, shall we say gritty, elements of life were both improper and could be dangerous to the “weaker female mind.” I’d like to think the men of the era had women’s best interests at heart, or at least thought they did, but I suspect it was because they were afraid of just how smart women are!

Of course, Charlotte thinks this notion that reading is dangerous to women is a load of twaddle, and she reads as much as she can, even though she has to hide her books from her father. When she faces a problem, she turns to books to find the answers. And when she marries, she finds joy in being given run of the house library.

Q: How did Marcus and Charlotte cross paths?

They meet initially at a dinner party. Charlotte’s parents despair of finding a spouse for her since she’s spurned even the few offers she’s received. But she’s determined to find someone, if for no other reason than to escape her parents’ control.

Marcus has been informed by his mother that it is his duty to marry and produce an heir in order to secure the family line. He’s always thought about marriage as a “someday later” notion. And when he marries, he certainly won’t let it affect his life too much. (See what I mean about Marcus needing to be shaken out of his comfortable rut? Nothing does that faster than a pretty girl.)

Q: Did any woman from the Regency era get to choose her own spouse? What was the typical courtship process?

They did, within a certain scope. The higher up the social ladder, the more likely that your marriage would be heavily influenced by your parents or guardians. Often a woman took an offer of marriage because she had few other options. The socioeconomics of the Regency era left few choices for an unmarried woman to support herself.

Courtship rituals during the Regency were quite strict and regimented. Chaperones were essential, decorum required, and rules adhered to faithfully. There were rules about when and how to properly speak to someone of the opposite sex, about how many dances you could share at a single event, when and where a courting couple could go. Getting those moves wrong could lead to scandal or censure or a damaged reputation.

Q: What are Charlotte’s views on marriage? How about Marcus?

They both see marriage as a necessary evil, though for different reasons. Charlotte sees marriage as a way to escape her unhappy home, but she fears jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. She longs for freedom, but the only way to be free of her current life is to suborn her freedom to a husband.

Marcus knows it is his duty to marry, and even his superior officer in the agency encourages him to wed, but he doesn’t want marriage to change him, nor does he want to have to give up anything when he marries. He’s certain that if he chooses correctly, he will find a wife who is content to run his household and bear his children, but who won’t interfere too much with his plans.

Q: Marcus is set on keeping the various aspects of his life in boxes—his spy work, his responsibilities as a duke, and his marriage. How does that work out for him and what advice does he get from unlikely sources?

Of course his married friends, Evan and Diana from The Lost Lieutenant, try to disabuse him of such notions, but Marcus learns best by doing . . . and by losing his heart to a woman who won’t stay in the neat little box he’s constructed for her. The more he tries to keep the various parts of his life separate, the more they spill over and blend together.

He’s forced to realize that he can’t control everything, especially not his wife. And in the end, he doesn’t want to be controlling.

Marcus receives counsel from several people, including Evan and Diana, but also his boss, Sir Noel St. Clair, and his widowed sister-in-law, and even a former prostitute turned charity worker who is part of his network of informants.

Q: What role does faith play in each of their lives?

Marcus tries to keep his faith in his “faith box.” Church on Sunday, theological discussion Sunday afternoon, but God doesn’t bleed over into his work and responsibilities . . . until Charlotte lands in his life.

Charlotte was taught at a private girls’ school where she developed her love of books, and one teacher in particular had a significant influence on Charlotte’s spiritual life. This teacher taught her that there was more to faith than church attendance and trying to be a good person. She needed to have a personal relationship with her Creator and His Son. Charlotte struggles with wondering why a God who says he gives good gifts to his children would extend that goodness to her. And she struggles with her father’s duplicity. He is pious when he’s with others, but he’s mean-spirited and a philanderer behind the scenes.

Q: A major part of the story involves coming to the aid of women involved in prostitution. That’s not a popular subject in Christian fiction. Tell us more about this aspect of the story and why you decided to make it a part of The Gentleman Spy.

Charlotte discovers early in the story that she has a half sister, the product of her father’s long affair with his mistress, and that both her sister and her sister’s mother have been tossed out to fend for themselves. Her sister, Pippa, makes the difficult choice to become a high-class prostitute in order to survive. Charlotte wants to help her newfound sister and forge a relationship with her, but Pippa doesn’t trust anyone, especially not a half sister who has all the advantages she never had growing up.

Portraying social issues like prostitution in Christian fiction is tricky. The last thing I want to do is write an “issue book” where I’m expounding my views on a particular theme or social situation. I don’t want my story to feel as if I’m standing on a soapbox on a street corner and shouting about how the reader should sit up and take notice of my cause and my views and do something! Any social issue, whether it is the treatment of veterans as in The Lost Lieutenant or the world of prostitution and exploitation of women and the double standards of society as in The Gentleman Spy, must be organic to the story and grow out of the characters’ lives and actions.

As Christians, we cannot be blind to these issues, but for me, as a novelist, the issues must be an integral part of the story I’m writing rather than something inserted with the purpose of preaching to the reader. If one of my stories gets someone thinking about what they could do regarding a social issue, that’s great. But it isn’t the primary reason for writing the story.

Q: It can be risky for an author to move into a new genre like you did when starting this series. What has the feedback been from your readers?

I’ve been so pleased with the responses to my entry into the Regency world. Both authors and readers have been very gracious. Many of those who read my previous works set in the American West have been happy to follow me to England, and I’ve gained new readers who are faithful to the Regency genre who have been willing to take a chance on a new-to-them author.

The Regency era can be tricky to write, because the readers are so knowledgeable and well versed in the history and social mores of the times. But they are also some of the most loyal readers with insatiable appetites for Regency fiction. I’ve found it quite a nice group to be among, and they’ve been most welcoming.

Q: What can readers look forward to in the last installment of the series, The Indebted Earl?

Between the release of The Gentleman Spy and The Indebted Earl, there will be a bonus novella! Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection releases in October of this year, and my novella, “Wonders of His Love,” is included. This novella takes us to Haverly Manor, the home of Marcus and Charlotte, for the Christmas season. Cilla Haverly, widow of the former heir, is wondering what her next step in life should be. Is she doomed to be the dowager’s companion forever, with no real place in society any longer? When an intriguing Scottish painter arrives to paint the portraits of the new Duke and Duchess of Haverly, he ignites in Cilla a spark of independence that has the dowager’s feathers ruffled and Cilla thinking thoughts of revolt . . . and love.

And finally, in March of 2021, the last installment of the Serendipity & Secrets series, The Indebted Earl, arrives. The story of Sophie Haverly, younger sister of the duke, The Indebted Earl takes the reader to the Devon coast as Sophie and Captain Charles Wyvern navigate grief, survivor’s guilt, rambunctious orphans, a dear woman suffering early dementia, smugglers, and a growing love that neither is sure is proper.



  1. I really liked the description of the book. Looking forward to reading it.

  2. Thanks so much for hosting The Gentleman Spy on your blog!