Cloak and Dagger...those fabulous British Spies!
by Tara Kingston
Nothing against Americans in espionage...Jack Ryan and Jason Bourne can certainly speed my pulse...but my favorite cloak and dagger characters are Brits through and through. The combination of a suave demeanor, English accent, and daring exploits is utterly irresistible.
Of course, the most well-known pop culture spy is Bond, James Bond. Created by Ian Fleming, James Bond remains the gold standard in fictional espionage. Despite his many film incarnations with actors who don't even resemble each other (of course, one could say the same of Batman), one thing stays the same: he's the alpha male's alpha male. Daring, smart, and never in need of a nap, he's virility and daring personified. Many think Sean Connery's portrayal of Sir Ian Fleming's daring hero is the superlative incarnation, but I think Daniel Craig has made the character his own. Gritty and real, he brings a human quality to the Bond character that I feel Connery lacked. I also liked Roger Moore's twinkle in the eye...a totally different take on the character, but very much in keeping with the irreverence of the seventies.
Emma Peel is my idol. Nearly fifty years after the Avengers first aired, Diana Rigg's portrayal of the sleek agent remains the epitome of a female spy. Witty, sophisticated, and the intellectual superior of the men who were foolish enough to confront her, she set the bar high. Ah, to slink along in a cat suit and disarm men with a well-placed kick...such is the fodder of my dreams. Her partner in espionage, John Steed, was immaculately attired and painstakingly well-mannered, yet he could kill a man with his hat and his umbrella without breaking a sweat. Impressive, indeed!
And then, you have Austin...Austin Powers, that is. Yeah, Baby! This character blends the suave, lady-killer spies of the sixties and seventies into one "hairy-like-animal" creation who's bold, a bit obtuse, and ultimately quite a sympathetic character. As a fan of sixties spy flicks, Mike Myers' homage to slick spies like In Like Flint's Derek Flint, James Bond and Michael Caine's Harry Palmer with a touch of Dr. Strangelove mixed in for good measure was a perfect guilty pleasure. I admit to feeling a surge of excitement each time there's a mention of Austin Powers 4 in the works...oh, if only my dreams would come true...
My recent Ellora's Cave release, Claimed by the Spymaster, was inspired by my longstanding fascination with spies. If I had to say which pop culture spy I had in mind, it would be Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of John Steed. British spy Alec Jameson is sophisticated, cultured, and lethal, and he'll stop at nothing to capture a traitor to Queen Victoria's empire.
Here's a little about the story:
Russian actress Valentina Baranova travels to England to marry, but the arrangement is definitely not a love match. Betrothed to a cunning and ruthless English lord, she’s the sweetener in a deal that will put stolen British documents in Russian hands and curry the Czar’s favor for her father. Determined to escape her loathsome intended, she flees him—and promptly falls into the hands of his most bitter enemy. An enemy who stirs her like no other.
Spy for the crown Alec Jameson, Lord Carrington, is on a mission—unmask the traitor responsible for his brother’s death before the blackguard can further betray Queen Victoria’s empire. Capturing Valentina to use as bait, he spirits her away from London. Despite his efforts to resist the alluring captive he’s snatched from his enemy’s grasp, Alec claims Valentina in the most carnal way possible. Once the beauty has been in his bed, he wants her for his own. But she must lay siege to a long-untouched part of Alec’s existence—his heart.
Claimed by the Spymaster is available from Ellora's Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance E-Books.
Which fictional spy is your favorite? Share your top cloak-and-dagger heroes and heroines...one commenter will be selected to receive an e-book of Claimed by the Spymaster.
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