The Charmer (Assassins Guild #1)

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Title: The Charmer (Assassins Guild #1)
Author: C.J. Archer
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Mystery
Source: Kindle Recommendation
Rating: 3/5

Favourite Quote: ‘Orlando stood there holding a candle, a sleepy smile curling his lips.
“You should be asleep,” she said and winced at her pathetic attempt at light conversation.
“You disturbed me.” His voice sounded rough.
“I was very quiet. I couldn’t possibly have woken you.”
“I didn’t say I was asleep, just that you disturbed me.”
Go back to bed, Mr Holt. It’s what she ought to have said.’


Lady Susanna Lynden has recently become a widow for the second time at the age of twenty four and now vows to swear off men. Her situation has provided her with title but unfortunately no means to support herself and her father back at her old cottage, Stoneleigh. The only thing she cares about now is making a means for herself on her own by selling her exotic jams and marmalades from her prized rare orange trees her mother grew in their garden. The only piece of her mother she has left, looking after the orange trees has become her new purpose in life. Her family and neighbours would disagree, they believe she needs to marry again and allow a man to settle the business for her which only pushes her further from their persistent intervening. When a handsome stranger appears outside her cottage asking for work to help her with her garden in exchange for food and shelter, she can’t help but feel suspicious. Who is this Orlando Holt and where did he come from? More importantly, why here when there are more suitable jobs elsewhere that can pay him?

Orlando Holt is an assassin, a job suited to him for his charming personality, a useful advantage to get close to his targets, slight but strong, powerful as well as stealthy, his boyish character just adds to his striking looks and devilish humour, all combined, a dangerous man with a purpose. When he is hired to assassinate a woman by an unknown secretive client, he can’t help but feel slightly restless. He’s never taken out a woman before, especially when he doesn’t have all the facts. Orlando decides to use his charm to get close to Lady Susanna Lynden, who is an apparent suspect in the deaths of her two previous husbands. For him, she is innocent until proven guilty. So when another man is found sneaking into her room in the middle of the night, Orlando soon realises he isn’t the only assassin hired to get the job done.

‘His gaze locked with hers, reassuring. Comforting. She felt utterly safe with this man beside her. Yet that was absurd. Orlando Holt was a mystery and she needed to remember that. What sort of gardener needed direction for even the basic tasks, and didn’t have his own gardening gloves? What sort of servant worked for no pay when must wealthier manors were within walking distance? She could not trust him with all her secrets. Not yet.’ 

My Thoughts

After getting caught up in C.J. Archer’s Steel and Glass series, I had to check out her other works. I have to say, whilst it didn’t live up to her other books, I wasn’t disappointed in this first Assassin’s Guild series. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. An historical fiction where status and title were prized, men controlled the business and it was unusual to find a lady getting her hands dirty in the garden.
Already widowed twice at the age of twenty four, Lady Susanna has become a suspect of murder without knowing it and has captured the attention of the assassins guild by an unknown client who wants her dead. A storyline that will keep you on your toes until the very end. The author does a great job in building up Susanna’s character, she’s determined, passionate and independent which isn’t acceptable for women in her time. She doesn’t let others get her down, it’s only when she fears for her life when she starts to rely on others but she is still strong enough to not allow her father to get involved. She takes the threats on her own, not expectant of anything or anyone. If it wasn’t for the fact that she didn’t inherit any wealth from her previous husband’s I would say she was emotionally capable of being the murderess she’s claimed to be.  

Orlando Holt is exactly what you want him to be. Our mysterious anti-hero assassin who has been chosen to investigate and potentially kill Lady Susanna on suspicion of murder. Except, of course he begins to fall for her instead. It was very obvious but you still don’t know how it will end. He’s proven he’s dangerous and has already succeeded in getting close to her, but will he be able to complete the job if it turns out it’s true? For a stealthy charming assassin he’s too open in his emotions. I know it’s the point since he’s never been in this position before, his previous targets were always men and it’s clear he’s very good at completing the job. It would have been good to have a bit more backstory for Orlando to show he’s more intimidating and a threat than he’s let on throughout the book. He’s too sweet and caring for me so the ending became clear.

‘”Shouldn’t you be asking me and not ordering me?” she said instead. 
He cocked his head to the side and she almost laughed at the cheekiness of his stance and the impish gleam in his eyes. He was certainly a man used to breaking a tense mood with his charm. “In that case, may I sleep on your parlor floor tonight, m’lady?”
“No,” she said, just to see his reaction. 
“Not the right answer.” When she began to protest, he added, “You told me to ask so I did. You mentioned nothing about obeying.” 
“Are you this impertinent with all your employers?”
“Always, but they couldn’t help but like me anyway.” 
“Are you sure they didn’t simply tolerate you? Perhaps they were short of strong backs in the garden.” 
He pressed a hand to his chest. “You wound me, dear lady.” 
She chuckled despite herself and shook her head. He was incorrigible.’ 

Overall it was a great story that I enjoyed. I would recommend it again for anyone looking for an historical fiction romance with a bit of mystery.

My Rating

Small Kitty 3

Goodreads Review:
He was the last man she needed, but the only one she wanted.
Orlando Holt has never assassinated a woman before. The lovely, feisty Lady Lynden will be his first. She’s supposed to be a vicious murderess, but when Orlando begins to have doubts, he sets out to discover the identity of the person who hired him. What he learns will turn his world upside down, and propel him headlong into love with a woman who’s immune to his charms.
Twice widowed by the age of twenty-four, Lady Susanna Lynden has had enough of charming men. Her last husband knew all the right things to say to get her to the marriage bed…then made her life miserable. Money may be scarce and her house falling down around her, but the exotic fruit from her orange trees will keep poverty away. Except someone is thwarting her at every turn. Someone who may even want her dead.

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Hey! I'm Gemma :) I moved to Japan with my husband and cat three years ago which has been one big adventure. The only downside (besides missing my family and dairymilk) is that I've moved to a country where English bookshops are limited, plus the idea of transporting so many books back home sounds dreadfully expensive. I've grown to love my Kindle which is why I'm fixated on ebooks. It connects nicely to my goodreads and netgalley account also which means I'm always adding more to my never ending list of books. I read fiction and love all things fantasy, YA, historical fiction and classics. Add a bit of mystery and I'll be hooked!

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