3 ½ - 4 stars. Captain Alec Hayes is presumed killed in the Battle of Waterloo. Soon after, incriminating correspondence to the French is found in his personal effects, and he has evermore been labeled a traitor to England. Alec in fact survived the battle, though barely, and for the past five years has lived under an alias while trying to find evidence that will clear his name. Even his family does not know he is alive. With the help of an influential friend, Alec has been working as a spy for the British Home Office, trying to prove his loyalty to the Crown in hopes of redeeming his good name. Now his older brother has died, so Alec has no choice but to return home and reveal himself - tainted reputation and all - in order to take care of his family and estate.
At the same time, Alec is assigned a missing persons investigation in his hometown. A former sergeant who is father to two local women has been missing for several months and Alec is asked to locate him. It becomes clear to Alec that the missing father is involved in some suspicious activities. As Alec searches for the truth, he finds himself more and more attracted to the oldest daughter, Cressida. But he refuses to get involved with any woman until his name is cleared. This may prove a difficult promise to keep, for circumstances soon find them living under the same roof!
I enjoyed this book. The mystery kept me turning the pages, there were many moving passages, the dialogue was well written and the build-up of sexual tension was excellent. Alec was a wronged hero who was easy to root for and Cressida a deserving heroine who was long overdue for love. Both were intelligent and resourceful. My only complaint is that the lead up to their romance was stronger than its realization, and that Cressida was too sexually forward - in a sort of off-putting way - when they consummated their relationship. It did not seem in keeping with her character or the times. Overall, though, this was a nicely written and involving story...with seemingly unconnected events smartly coming together as the story unfolds.