Olivia Delancey is a thinking woman living in a man’s world, a world that has no room for female intelligence and where her own parents have no room in their hearts (or purses) for her. When she composes music that she is especially proud of, an inspiring march, she has no one to share it with except her old music teacher, Martin Purdy, who is off fighting against the French. When he returns a broken man, wounded, and unable to marry Olivia’s friend because of his pennilessness, Olivia sets in a motion a plan to get him the resources he needs, provide him with motivation to get well, and also allow her music to be shared with a wider audience. She gets the march published in a London newspaper, but everyone believes that Martin is its composer. The song is a hit and the public clamors for more of the same. When it becomes apparent that Martin’s wounds prevent him from playing, doubts are cast on his ability to compose. In the meantime, Olivia begins a relationship with the newspaper’s publisher, William Marsh. What will happen if the truth comes out? Will the scandal mean the end of her father’s political career and, even more importantly, her relationship with Will?
This was an enjoyable historical romance. Olivia reminded me somewhat of Jane Austen’s Emma, forever trying, in her own special way, to help others, even though somehow it never quite managed to work out exactly as she planned. It was nice to have a heroine with a brain. It was also interesting to have a heroine who was not as pure as snow—she had been intimate with the man she (and apparently the rest of the world) assumed she was going to marry. She is a bit of a rebel, even if she is limited in the ways she is able to show it. Olivia’s parents are pretty detestable as they only seem to care for themselves. I could have overlooked that part until, as part of their efforts to “economize,” they sell the one thing that meant the most to Olivia. Her Aunt Betsy was enlightened—she had figured out how to make her own way in a man’s world with a conveniently “incapacitated” husband. Olivia and Betsy were women ahead of their time. I also did not like Merry, Olivia’s friend, who was engaged to Martin. She turned out to be completely petty and unworthy of both Martin and Olivia.