Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory
Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale – a field agent returning to 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot – Miles Siward moves into a ‘couples only’ boarding house, posing as Allerdale’s ‘wife’. Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.
Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, water board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction to each other.
Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?
The clock is ticking.
Review: A huge ***** from me.
I am new to Elin Gregory’s writing, but I heard great things about Eleventh Hour, and after a particularly fractious day, I treated myself to the book. I was not disappointed. I have a particular fondness for tales set in the first half of the twentieth century, and Elin’s expert touch drew me into the pre-war non-technological world. There is something much more exciting about an era where it was people rather than gadgets that did the legwork, and coded messages have to be left in unexpected places.
Briers and Miles are joy to read, particularly as they get to know each other. Elin handled Miles to Millie in a way I didn’t expect. I’m used to stories where the ‘wife’ stomps around unhappy at having to play a woman. This was different, and such a pleasure in the way Briers reacts to Miles’ night-time revelation, and then takes time to court him.
Much of the book is based in a boarding house, and I loved the way Elin describes the relationships between the couples, and especially Miles posing as a woman. There is a particularly delicate scene between Millie and one of the other wives under the guise of hemming a skirt.
I’m not going to give it away , but Eleventh Hour was a good old-fashioned romp of a plot. This book is a joy to read and if you like stories about spooks and old-fashioned thrillers in a London setting, with a large dose of romance, I highly recommend this book.
A suggested similar book I’ve enjoyed.
London, the 1930s: With the cooperation of a top-ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler’s rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own – and both are well aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.