Alice Wallis-Eton

Books: Romance | Historical

The Cryptographer (2015)

The Cryptographer (2015)

Set in England in 1813.

Irritating is, I believe, the best description for this story. There were parts of it I really liked (which is why I finished it) but greater parts were annoying and unnecessary.

Aster Tanner is a young woman making her living in a world that makes it very hard for any female to do so.

Iain McIntyre is a second son who has made the military his career, but now is being pressured to return home after the unexpected death of his brother.

Here is what I liked:

Aster is a cryptographer. She works as Sir John's secretary, and because of the nature of their work, they are kept isolated from the rest of the Ordonance Office, which allows them to keep Aster's gender a secret.

Iain is a Captain in the Second Dragoons, a group which has been kept in Scotland, which allows Iain and several members of his unit to go on secret missions on the continent.

Iain's companions–second sons as was typical for that time–are good at their jobs, and have become friends as much as unit members.

And then there was the rest of the story. The romance itself was a part of the story, but the details of that were annoying and felt forced. The sex scenes were superfluous and felt as if they were there only because the author thought they would help sell the book. The two main characters fell instantly in lust with each other, and although that was explained away for Iain, it didn't feel at all real for Aster.

There were also The Misunderstandings, which were simply irritating and unbelievable. For one, considering all the information Sir John and Aster have at hand, his advice to her over her confusion about Iain is just stupid. And the Big Reveal seems to come out of left field. The details of the story pointed towards it, but the relationship between the characters almost contradicted that. (Especially considering Aster's emotion reactions.)

Also, the working girl portion of the story felt–wrong somehow. This story is set during the Napoleonic wars, but the house where Aster lived seemed like it belonged a century later that the time in which the story was set. It wasn't anything specific, it just felt really off. Possibly because of the usage of words like “waitress” which is from the mid-1800s and felt far too modern when it appeared in the story, making the other working girl details feel more modern.

I'm not certain that's it, but I am certain this is an annoying and irritating story that had the possibility to be so much more than it was. It's that lack of unfulfilled possibility that makes the book feel far more terrible than it actually was.

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Rating: 4.5/10