Another notch in my lipstick case – genre guide

Mata Hari

In 1917 Mata Hari was executed in France for spying.

Sex and the sneaky – using her wiles to solve the case

The femme fatale as undercover agent is in no way a new idea – Mata Hari as the iconic 20th-century example. Nonetheless, this concept has been used in a few fun fantasy froli series.  It’s an excellent excuse to blend steamy scenes with romance and intrigue and fantasy.

  • Jaqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart – Phedre Delaney. Carey has written quite the series featuring Phedre as a young woman trained as a spy in a France-analogue country which lives according to the motto ‘Love as thou wilt’.  Since Phedre has been touched by the god who governs sadomasochism, her adventures are not for the squeamish or straight-laced.  The series has continued across literally generations of characters now, all following the successful formula of at least two major conflict/crisis arcs, thwarted love, and many titillating scenes.  Generally Phedre is uncovering threats to the monarchy by finding information, or locating a mystical token.
  • C.E. Murphy – The Queen’s Bastard – Belinda Drake. This is a more recent series, as yet only with two books, and the superficial details of character and setting are quite similar to the Carey series.  The main character comes from an England-analogue, but spends a lot of time in ‘France’, and uses her feminine wiles in many undercover antics.  Belinda is actually an assassin more often than spy, and let’s just say the magic is not coming ‘from the gods’.

Honorary list members

These series have a similar strong female protagonist with a mystery to solve, and sex is part of her modus operandi.

  • Richelle Mead – Succubus Blues – Georgina Kinkaid. A fun series, and you can’t get much more carnal than a succubus.  The mysteries which Georgina tackles are encountered in her daily life, though, rather than being spy missions for a queen.
  • Sarah Micklem – Firethorn – Firethorn. Firethorn changes her name on a per-book basis, possibly as she becomes the favorite of one god after another.  In any case, she’s chosen the life of an upscale camp-follower. She’s the mistress of a prominent knight.  These two books are the least mystery-focused of this list – they are relatively straightforward fantasy.  Odd, but fun, with some touches of very excellent prose and characterization.
I have other lists: take a look.
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