8 Spy Romance Reads In Honor of Outlander’s Sam Heughan’s First Major Movie ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’
By Carly Lane
One week and counting until Outlander's Sam Heughan's The Spy Who Dumped Me — also starring Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon and Justin Theroux — hits theaters, marking his first major theatrical role. Yum.
Spies are everywhere lately — although, maybe it’s more accurate to say that they’ve never truly gone out of style. From more serious films like Atomic Blonde and Red Sparrow to the lighter fare, like Ocean’s 8, the spy runs the gamut of subgenres — not just on the screen, but on the page as well.
Like movies, romance novels have been home to all kinds of spies over the years, regardless of skill level or success rate. (If some of these spies were truly honest with themselves, they’d admit that their mission actually goes out the window the first time they lay eyes on their one true love. No judgment here, though!) If you’ve been looking for some reads to scratch that particular itch, we’ve rounded up 8 romance reads for you to enjoy.
Bourne’s Spymasters series, each book of which spotlights a different member of Britain’s Secret Service, is really worth reading in its entirety. You don’t necessarily have to read them in order, which is why we’re picking out the third book, The Forbidden Rose, which is chronologically the first book in Bourne’s timeline and revolves around a romance between an aristocrat hiding in plain sight and one of England’s best spies. It all happens against the backdrop of Paris in the middle of a revolution. Add a dash of instamarriage, a strong female lead and a delightfully entertaining hero and you’ve got the mix for a captivating spy romance.
The first book in Cole’s Loyal League series is set in the Civil War era, where allies and enemies are equally prevalent and in the midst of it all one former slave-turned-Union spy and one undercover Pinkerton detective struggle to play their respective parts while also fighting the temptation to act on their feelings for one another. Elle, the heroine, also has an eidetic memory, which isn’t a trait seen often in romance leads and which makes this story particularly refreshing and delightful. Once you’ve read An Extraordinary Union, go and pick up the second book in the series while you wait for book three to come out in February(?!).
Duran’s romances are well-loved and with good reason. Her strong, memorable characters and gut-punching storylines will make your heart ache and your mind happy all in the same breath. In Written on Your Skin, which initially takes place in 1880’s Hong Kong, an undercover British spy encounters a young, strong-willed American woman who doesn’t give a hoot about what society thinks of her. After their entanglement, fast-forward four years and both parties are in very different stages of their lives and have ventured to London for different reasons. What will happen when they unexpectedly encounter one another again? And what will happen when they have to work together to solve a personal and painful mystery?
Thomas is another romance author you won’t want to sleep on, and the last book in her London Trilogy features a marriage-of-convenience story between a woman desperate to seek her freedom from a overruling uncle and a secret agent who masquerades as one of London’s most inept bachelor in order to catch criminals. Obviously, hijinks ensue when the two come across each other, and even after they’re married they have to learn to fully let down their guard and reveal their true selves to one another. Thomas presents realistic, flawed characters in a way that feels true to life, even if the circumstances that bring her main pairing together are sneakily crafted.
Loved Mr. and Mrs. Smith but always wished there was a historical equivalent? Galen, who has written countless Regency romances, offers a fun twist on some of the most famous spy flicks with her Lord and Lady Spy series, the installments of which not only pays homage to the 2005 Brangelina rom-com but the Curtis-Schwarzenegger led True Lies and a gender-swapped take on James Bond as well. The first installment follows Lord Adrian Smythe and Lady Sophia Smythe, who are each unaware of their spouse’s true form of employment until they find out the truth for themselves one fateful night.
FBI agents sometimes find themselves in the position of needing to do some spywork, but what happens when a blast from the past enters the picture? Special Agent Monica Davenport is forced to work with peer Luke Dante when they’re both tasked with catching a murderer, one who has a particular penchant for using his victims’ worst fears against them. If you like your romance with a bit of suspense added, Eden’s Deadly trilogy is worth picking up.
Willig’s long-running Pink Carnation books fall more on the light-hearted spectrum of the spy subgenre, blending historical and contemporary elements for a fun summer read. Fans have gobbled up Willig’s clever stories featuring a fun heroine and a unique storytelling technique. When Eloise Kelly stumbles across the secret letters of the Pink Carnation, England’s most elusive spy, she wonders if she can finally unmask their unknown identity in the present day. Willig pairs historical accuracy with adorable romance in a way that will have you coming back for more until the last page is turned.
Carter’s Gallagher Girls series has been labeled “Hogwarts for spies,” but that doesn’t really do it justice. The books definitely fall more into the YA category, but there’s a lot that reminds us of DEBS, which is a movie that never gets enough love. Cammie Morgan is secretly a spy-in-training at the elite Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Woman, but none of her training prepares her for what to do when she meets a cute boy, and she’s definitely not expecting to fall in love with him either. Can
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About the Author
Carly Lane is the contributing editor for SYFY WIRE’s FANGRRLS, a vertical dedicated to spotlighting the female-driven aspects of fandom. She’s also written for Nerdist, Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, The Toast (RIP), Teen Vogue, and more.
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