The story begins with Eve's letter to Sir, in which she tenders her resignation from the Department of Domestic and International Affairs. It has been five years since Eve started working as an agent for the Department and she feels it is time for her to leave behind her life as a spy and to begin a new one --
The letter (and subsequent replies) reveal a tension between Eve and Sir as they explore their "what might have been" -- but they wisely decide to let their curiosity rest.
It is two years later and we discover that Eve is Lady Evelyn Hadley-Atwater, happily married to Lord Adrian. But the Department and its secrets are in danger of exposure -- and only Eve can be trusted to recover the missing documents. Eve is reluctant to return. It is only when she is reminded that Sir's identity and life are also in peril that she agrees to take the mission.
What begins as a spy story suddenly changes into a comedy of errors (except it wasn't satirical or humorous) when we discover that Sir is actually Lord Adrian Hadley-Atwater. And Adrian complicates matters (and convolutes the story) by deciding to test Evelyn's love and loyalty by playing Sir against himself.
The story loses its focus and Eve's mission seems to have been forgotten.
There are family dinners, balls and masquerades -- and we slowly see the unravelling of Evelyn and Adrian's marriage as distrust and untruth (and a fake kidnapping) come between them.
At this point, I wasn't certain how Victoria Alexander would resolve the story but she does manage to tie everything together.
I had such great expectations after reading the premise and loved the idea of two characters (already married) and reading about what happens to them next but I did not enjoy the changes in the storyline -- the central conflict changed completely as did the style.
What I did enjoy was the secondary story between Sir Max and Celeste. I actually felt they had a better, more planned, more developed story to tell (and felt they got better scenes than the main characters).
This is one of my favorite marriage proposals ever:
"I want you in my bed every night and every morning ... I want to introduce you to my family, my friends. I want to dance with you at grand balls and picnic with you in public parks. And I want you by my side on the day I breathe my last. ... I want you to be the mother of my children. ... And I want to be the father to your children."
- Sir Max to Celeste, p. 219
Victoria Alexander also does a good job of elaborating on the theme of secrets -- how each person, titled or not, rich or poor, has something they hide. (Not for any nefarious purposes -- but just because. ^_^)
Alexander has a wonderful gift for writing humor and light-heartedness -- and her talent shines through in this novel.
In the end, it becomes a case of all's well that ends well: Victoria Alexander is able to save the story with her witty dialogue and her memorable characters. (And she does manage to resolve all the loose ends nicely.)
My Wicked Little Lies is part of her Sinful Family Secrets (Hadley-Atwater Family) series.