This past weekend, I experienced the joy of reading yet another Erica Vetsch book. I’ve read several of her titles now, and this new one has only built up my admiration of her style of writing. I can hardly wait for the upcoming novella and the following full-length novel, both additions to the Serendipity & Secrets series.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Read with Audra and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Prostitution is a reality for many people. It’s scandalous and not spoken of in most of society. But what would happen if a loved one was caught up in it due to circumstances they could not control? How personal do you suppose it would become then? And to what ends would you go to help this loved one, and others, escape from that dark and miserable life, to show them that they have more worth than the “fortune” and abuse they earn in that fashion?
The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch answers those questions for one of its characters. The prostitution was never shown on-page, for which I was grateful, and it was clearly shown as a life not to be desired and for the sin it is. What the beautiful writing in this book did was showcase the leading character’s heart for rescuing the brokenhearted and lost souls who got caught up in a rough life. I can’t help but think that’s how Jesus sees all of us before we’re saved. That we’re caught up in our own sins, whatever they might be, and that He’s got a huge heart to rescue us all.
This book brought to mind Rahab from the book of Joshua in the Bible. She was a prostitute who was saved for her bravery in saving the spies when they were sought after by people who wanted to kill them. It’s clear she changed her lifestyle after that, because she joined the Israelites in their journey deeper into the Promised Land and later became a member of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The redemption stories Jesus has in store for each of us are amazing, and I pray we freely step onto that path that will lead us to the best sort of healing in Him.
Marcus’ and Charlotte’s story is one of refining. It’s about learning to let God purify your heart and redeem your soul. It’s got such depth of heart that I can’t help but gasp to think about it. As tough as this story was to read at times—because it broke my heart in a dozen ways and opened my eyes further to the lost and aching souls around me—it was refreshing and uplifting at the same time. The journey down Redemption Road is unique to everyone, and it’s always encouraging to me to read fiction that leaves me with the impression that discovering the rich love of God goes fathoms deeper than any of us could ever comprehend. I’ve personally found that to be true, and it’s wonderful to see that others are on similar journeys of discovery.
There are many other things I adored about this story of courage and redemption. Here are a few.
The fact that Charlotte confronted habitual, generational sins with free-thinking, biblically-minded gumption was incredible to see unfold. It was encouraging to me that even when I find faults in myself, there is hope to overcome them and find strength of character because of them, not in spite of them.
While I did not like how toxic Charlotte’s parents and Marcus’ mother were in this story, I appreciated that the author represented their personalities with honesty and a confident hand. I have been around toxic people before, and she captured it perfectly. The attitudes, the reactions, the cruelty, the degradation of mind and spirit… as well as the overcoming of it in those who chose to break free. This sort of toxicity is often difficult for me to read because of my past experiences, yet somehow it wasn’t so hard this time. I think because Charlotte and Marcus both stood confidently on the truth of Jesus Christ from the outset and purposely broke free from the bondage of toxicity while still honoring their parents, it was made easier for me to tolerate these mixed-up characters who had difficulty functioning normally.
The author clearly has a large vocabulary. There were many, many words in this book I did not know. At first, I paused to look them up and, in so doing, expanded my own vocabulary. But as the story sucked me in deeper and deeper, I stopped pausing and tried my best to infer the meanings with context clues instead. There were a few that were still lost on me, but I take this as a challenge to look them up the next time I read this book, and to continue learning new-to-me words every chance I get. This plethora of unusual terms was a little new from this author, compared to the previous book in this series and the two or three other books of hers that I’ve read. (Or I’m just rusty from having read other authors’ books recently.)
The fact that Marcus was attracted to the inner beauty of his lady love before her outer beauty was truly revealed made my heart flip for joy. Too many times in fiction, the outer beauty is the first (and sometimes only) attraction point, and this almost always seems shallow to me because I know first-hand that people’s true selves lie much deeper within than the “glossy cover” of the surface presentation of themselves. I was grateful to be reading a strong story with great moral values and a desire, yearning for, and appreciation of inner beauty.
The content to make mention of was all thematic in nature, but it was also all handled with a master’s touch, never dwelling on the negative and always showing evil and sin for what they were (things in need of overcoming and repenting from) and that redemption was possible if one would only choose a new path. The one exception was a brief comment about a “friendly wager,” and this was not shown to be wrong.
Content: prostitution, marital affairs, pub, alcohol, gambling, tobacco
Recommended for: 18+ (unless really mature) for thematic elements
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?
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.
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).