When Beth McMullen notified me that Book #2 in her Sally Sin series was going to be published, I got really excited. We reviewed Book #1, Original Sin, when it was published and I loved that book. I had been eagerly awaiting Book #2, To Sin Again. Then Beth clued me in that she planned to publish a 2-book compilation titled Spy Mom, to would include Book #1 & #2 for everyone who missed out on Book #1.
Not only that but she generously offered to let us host a giveaway for several copies. I felt like we had struck gold! Spy Mom: The Adventures of Sally Sin features a mom who’s also a reluctant spy, and if anything can go wrong then it usually does both personally and professionally. In other words, she’s a typical mom. I’m delighted to say that we have 4 copies to give away!
“Where are all the pictures and movies and stuff?’ He [Theo] grabs the mouse and starts racing it around. The cursor looks like a passenger on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I pull it from his hand.
‘There aren’t any,’ I say. ‘This is a network for grown-ups. For big people.’
‘You mean old people?’ he asks. ‘Like you, Mom?’
Gee, honey, thanks for that. ‘Yes. Kind of like me.’
He pops up on his knees and starts combing through my hair, doing his best impression of a mamma gorilla searching for nits.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Finding more of those white hairs. I can pull them out like you do.’”
To catch up on Book #1, Original Sin, click here for our review of it. The review below may provide some spoilers for Book #1 but I’ve tried hard to review Book #2 so it won’t impact your enjoyment of Book #1.
Sally Sin is a retired spy or at least she’s supposed to be. She used to work for the USAWMD, the U.S. Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction, an extremely secret agency you’ve probably never heard of – that’s how secret it is. Now she’s known as Lucy Hamilton and is married to a wonderful man, Will, whose only flaw is probably that he takes being environmentally conscious a bit too seriously. She’s also the mother of Theo, a precocious preschooler, who is the light of her life and for brief moments the bane of her existence. Will and Theo know nothing of her past, and she wants to keep it that way which is harder than it sounds.
“On the surface, I look like your average stay-at-home mom. My jeans always bear some evidence of what we had for breakfast and I could certainly benefit from more frequent showering. But I wasn’t always like this. I used to carry a small handbag with room only for a fake passport, a Chapstick, and a small stack of foreign currency.”
The reason for her difficulty in keeping it secret and the real bane of her existence is her prior supervisor at the USAWMD, Simon Still. Simon doesn’t seem to think her retirement means anything. When he needs her, he thinks she should drop everything immediately. He really doesn’t get the concept that motherhood and marriage is a 24/7 job for her, and has no respect for her need for privacy and secrecy.
“’Who was that?’ he [Theo] asks. ‘Hey, a package? Can I open it? Is it for me?’
‘I’m pretty sure it’s for me. And, no, you can’t open it.’
‘You never let me do anything.’
‘I know,’ I say, ‘I’m an awful mother.’
Standing in the hallway, I peel back the paper from the package. Theo watches in great anticipation because, after all, a package is a package. Underneath the paper is a plain white box; inside the box is a black cell phone, with no screen and a single button, nestled in a bed of crumpled up Washington Post. A note in the same loopy handwriting reads, ‘Call me. Let’s have coffee.’ I can almost hear him laughing. I start to sweat.”
The other pain in Sally’s butt is the very gorgeous Ian Blackford, a USAWMD agent who went rogue and became a weapons dealer. He has kidnapped Sally repeatedly. Oddly enough, he’s never harmed her and has on occasion even saved her from certain extinction when she’s gotten in over her head on an assignment. She still hasn’t forgiven him for showing up (in Book #1) in San Francisco like he did. Although he’s supposed to be dead, she’s not sure anything could really kill him – like a bad penny, he just keeps showing up.
While Theo has been in preschool, Sally has been able to watch his school from the coffee shop across the street to ensure he remains safe. Unfortunately, as all kids do, Theo has reached the age that he’s ready for kindergarten. Now she’s totally stressed out because it seems that in San Francisco, picking a kindergarten is seen as having life-long repercussions; good if you pick well and horrific if you don’t. On top of that, she has to be concerned about Theo’s safety in a way other mothers don’t. Ugh.
“’Now, shall we chat a little about your kindergarten goals before we run out of time?’
No. I don’t want to talk about kindergarten goals or how my kid likes to throw himself onto the roof of the school building or what a genius he is with a green crayon. What I really want to do is go back to bed and wake up when Theo safely graduates from college and enters a nice mundane profession, such as accounting or dentistry, and takes responsibility for his own life, if kids even do that anymore.”
Of course Simon would pick this point to let her know the USAWMD Director, Charles Gray, who she’s learned is her real father, has been kidnapped by Chemical Claude and, oddly enough, Simon doesn’t seem all that anxious to get him back. WTH is going on? Simon should be panicked at the thought of the Director in an enemy’s hands.
“’The phone call came to my [Simon’s] office. We are Righteous Liberty, they said…We have Director Gray and we want to talk to Sally Sin…But the United States government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Everyone knows that.’…
‘Who did we outsource it to?’…
‘The regulars,’ Simon says, with a malignant flash in his eyes. It’s enough to tell me this is an unsanctioned visit, that whatever Simon is up to, it falls somewhere outside the lines of proper. For a second, I think it might even be personal but then I remind myself that Simon doesn’t do personal…”
As Sally recalls her history with this nefarious international criminal and thinks more about how Simon is behaving, she realizes there is a plot involved that doesn’t makes sense but that it could be disastrous for not only the agency but the world.
What can she do that won’t blow her cover at home but will save her father? Just as importantly to her, can she get Theo into a good kindergarten that won’t turn him into a lifelong snob or a slacker?
Sally/Lucy is my hero – a real mom with all the flaws and guilt and anxiety that every mom with children has. At the same time, she’s trying to bumble her way through saving the world one more time. Her whole life is like a leaning Tower of Pisa built from a stack of cards that could blow over in a mild wind. I don’t know about you but I’ve felt like my life could be that way at times, even without trying to save the world or care for kids. In other words, Sally/Lucy rocks in my book! She’s one of my favorite characters of all time. And Theo emerges in Book #2 to be one hell of a cool kiddo. I fell in love with this little guy within just a few pages!
In Spy Mom, Beth McMullen has written another laugh-out-loud adventure for my favorite mommy spy. My sides hurt from laughing at all of the predicaments that Sally/Lucy got herself into this time. Both of these books are so well written and so funny and so touching. Am I gushing? Damn right I am – I’m in love with this series and I hope it never ends!
I can’t believe Beth has given us 4 copies of Spy Mom to give away that include Book #1 and Book #2. You guys are so lucky! This is going to make a fantastic summer read, so be sure to enter!
Can’t wait to read it?
Spy Mom was published on June 12, 2012 so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on Spy Mom, Beth McMullen, and/or this review.
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Four lucky readers will win paperback copies of Spy Mom: The Adventures of Sally Sin by Beth McMullen! WooHoo!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 7/21/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
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7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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