Olivia Grace married for love, and was deliriously happy, until scandal and divorce ruined not only her name, but her entire life. Five years on she's hiding under a false name, working for an odious woman in Belgium on the eve of battle. She's grown good at keeping secrets over the years, but when she finds her own husband on the battlefield, gravely injured, she knows she must save him. Despite him wearing a French uniform.
When Jack Wyndham, Earl of Gracechurch, wakes he's delighted to find his wife by his side. After their argument he's missed her terribly - except Olivia is strangely cold - but then in his mind it's still 1810, and nothing terrible has happened. Except he has memories he doesn't understand, and knows he is in danger, even if he can't remember why. There are people looking for him, but all he wants is to love his wife. Except the secrets in her eyes might turn out to be the most dangerous truths of all.
Eileen Dreyer opens her DRAKE'S RAKES series, and historical romance career in excellent style (she's beter known as award winning Silhouette author Kathleen Korbel). Starting in Belgium at the infamous Duchess of Richmond's ball, the action runs through Waterloo and the days that follow, tending the wounded and recovering the dead, before finally returning to London.
Olivia is an exceptional heroine, who has been forced to make some painful choices in order to survive. Her reactions to Jack, despite everything, prevent her from ever appearing too hard or unsympathetic. Then there are Grace, Lady Kate and Lady Bea to support her - three very different women with powerful stories to tell.
Into this comes Jack, a curious hero, wounded yet handsome, tender yet confused, and made hard by things he cannot remember. I'll admit I raced through this, dying to see how things would work out. How could Jack earn Livvi's forgiveness? Did he even deserve a chance? I almost didn't care about the traitor plot.
A complicated tale of love, lies, traitors, revenge and redemption, Dreyer handles all of this and more with a skilful touch. Nothing feels rushed or forced (though there are a few things that seem to get forgotten - like the flask. What did Gervaise mean about the flask?), the characters are beautifully crafted and the setting excellently researched. This book needs to be read more than once, and I think the next time I read this I'll enjoy it even more.
Dreyer is an exciting addition to the genre, I cannot wait to see what she does with a marriage of convenience plot. Grace's tale - Never a Gentleman
- is up next.