The hardcover debut of Tracy Grant is all I expected.
Her previous books, including those written with her mother, prepared me for the skilled use of historical background material. Her last three paperbacks showed me how clever her plotting could be. This historical suspense is a masterwork
Previous Grant books have been romances with the requisite happily ever afters. While Charles and Melanie seem to have one, the initial actions in this book strip it away in such a manner that it doesn't seem it could be regained.
Over a period of three days, the couple search for a particular ring with which they can ransom their son. Grant knows her historical background and it shows. This isn't prettified London and regency England. Much of this story takes place in the layer underneath the pretty. Grant's characterization skills are also exemplary. Her characters aren't simple and the experiences that shaped them aren't easy ones. Her secondary characters are given life too and each of them had untold stories trailing behind them.
Because both Charles and Melanie played a part in the later Napoleonic Wars, flashbacks to their actions and experiences also show us the underside of war. The flashbacks are a necessary part of the story and aren't intrusive. At one point Grant's book invites comparison to Carla Kelly's stunning One Good Turn and she doesn't suffer in the comparison. Grant's characters aren't blindly patriotic. Those in the book who worked for the French cause are not portrayed as villains but as reasoning human beings.
This is a busy book.There's lots of action and movement. And in the small quiet spaces, Charles and Melanie are reacting to the death of their happily ever after and slowly working towards a new way of living with each other.
All the books Tracy Grant has written on her own and with her mother (as Anthea Malcolm and Anna Grant) are on my keeper shelves. This one will join them. At one point in this book, the family name Lescaut is used. This is a name that figures in Tracy's previous books and gives me hope that we may see more from her using this particular world.