Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 308 (eARC)
Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.
Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.
So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.
But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?
With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
I really loved Talia Vance's debut novel, SILVER, so when I found out she was coming out with another book and it also had spies in it, I immediately wanted it. Spies and an author that I adore, what could go wrong? Well, apparently, a lot can go wrong. This book wasn't what I expected and I often found myself trudging through passages.
This is a rather loose re-telling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I don't know much about the classic that it is based off of, only the general gist, but this novel more or less contains small nods to some characters instead of following the plot the way your average re-telling does. So, if that aspect of the novel worries you at all, don't be alarmed and don't allow it to hinder you from reading this book.
I also have to say that the plot in this one had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the beginning of this novel. It had a lot going for it and promised a unique journey with some interesting characters. But only a few chapters in my interest waned alongside the plot and I found myself trudging through it. It was still a quick and easy read, but it almost seemed laborious because I just didn't love the novel the way I was hoping to. I think that this was in part due to the mystery. The second the true hunt began was when my interest declined. It didn't pull me in. It's as simple as that.
And, unfortunately, I have to say the same thing in regards to the characterization. Berry, named Strawberry Fields in honor of the Beatles, was dry and hard to connect with. Did I pity her for losing her mother eight years ago? Yes, but sadly that was pretty much the true extent of emotions that she made me feel. I have to admit that I think it was pretty amazing to have a main character who knew judo, though. And her best friend, Mary Chris, (named because she was born on Christmas and her parents have a wicked sense of humor) was the character I enjoyed most. She was comedic, unique, and her amazing technological skills were awesome. I thought upon starting the novel by meeting a duo with such unique names that this was going to be full of surprises and laughs and while there clearly was a lot of twists and turns in this one, they were not all that surprising and just fell flat. I have to put a nod out there to Jason whose character was rather annoying to me. He was gay and he was your typical literary gay guy--ten times girlier than Berry the MC. It bugged me, I don't know how else to put it. Most of the gay guys I know in real life don't act like the stereotypical literary gay guy which is why such characterizations are always problematic for me, but I'm not getting into that rant right now. It's a personal pet peeve of mine that should not sway any opinions.
Another issue I had with this novel was the romance. Berry finds two unique love interests--Tanner and Drew. They're incredibly different and both are mysterious. They come at her from different angles. Tanner is aloof and easily irritable while Drew is overly-friendly and faux-concerned about everything. Oh, and they both are warning her off of the other from day one. It's your typical and annoying love triangle feud. She's with one and them and can only think about them but as their day draws to an end she can't stop thinking about the other. I wish that it played out differently. She had issues with both boys and while I think the one she ended up with was who was best for her, I strongly dislike the process we had to endure for her to make such a decision.
There are some rather huge revelations throughout the novel as well. You know, life-threatening secrets revealed and such. They seemed so ludicrous to me that I was rolling my eyes often. I get that Berry is a semi-spy because she stakes out cheating guys for her Dad's detective agency firm, but somehow it's as if everyone is secretly working for this or that and it's this tangled web of secret teens working for secret agencies going on secret spy missions in secret. But shhhh! It's a secret! I struggled with the believability of it all because it was not only unexpected, but it really seemed to drain the plot instead of benefit it.
In the end, this book and I just weren't meant to be. While I think the plot will definitely appeal to those looking for a unique mystery that finds spy missions cute (I'm thinking younger young adult readers as opposed to the older ones), this is not a book that I think everyone will enjoy. I think you have to be in a certain mood, especially because by the end of the novel I was left with way too many loose ends and questions. With no sign of a sequel in the future, the open ending frustrates me and leaves me feeling jipped as opposed to satisfied. With that being said, Vance impressed me so much with SILVER that I'm still anticipating book two, GOLD, and I'm not quite ready to give up on her just yet.