“Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.” – H. L. Mencken
Author: Sarah Granger
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Duty, honor, propriety…all fall in the face of love.
Captain Hugh Fanshawe returned from the Peninsular War with a leg that no longer works properly, thanks to a French musket ball. Now his fight against Napoleon is reduced to quiet, lonely days compiling paperwork at Horse Guards headquarters.
His evenings are spent dutifully escorting his mother and sister to stifling social engagements, where his lameness renders him an object of pity and distaste. But his orderly, restricted life is thrown into sudden disarray with the arrival of Colonel Theo Lindsay.
Theo is everything Hugh is not—a man of physical perfection and easy yet distinguished address. Surprisingly to Hugh, Theo appears to be interested in making his acquaintance. Lindsay turns out to be a most convivial companion, and Hugh finds great pleasure in his company. Their friendship deepens when they become lovers.
In spite of himself, Hugh falls desperately in love. But when a French spy is suspected at Horse Guards, Hugh discovers nothing is as it seems…and the paper he shuffles from day to day could be the instrument of his lover’s death.
Review: I want to extend a huge thank you to author Sarah Madison for bringing this book to my attention. We had a great little conversation one day about how writing reviews can sometimes be like nothing more than writing a love letter to a book and to its characters, and about the way some books transcend mere reading and become, as the story unfolds, an experience that engages your heart, broadens yours views, encourages you to think beyond real world experiences, allows you to escape into another life, and makes you feel, for better or worse, emotions that can be reached only through the words and imagination of another person’s gift for storytelling.
Sarah Granger, the author of A Minor Inconvenience, has managed to do what only a handful or so of my favorite authors of historical fiction have done before—made me sit up and take notice, from chapter one, that I was about to experience something wonderful; was about to be transported to another place and time, and be would held hostage by the words and an elegantly structured prose that very carefully and capably made me believe that her characters at one time existed in this world.
Captain Hugh Fanshawe isn’t the confident and dashing hero who’s come home from Salamanca in 1812 to accolades for his bravery in the Peninsular War. Rather, he’s come home with a crippled leg that’s earned him pity and a desk job in the Horse Guard, a duty that’s only notable in his dedication to it because it fills in the empty spaces in his life not dedicated to his mother and sister.
Colonel Theo Lindsay is the man who cuts a dashing figure and swath of desire through Hugh’s otherwise sedate existence, though he may have ulterior motives for his interest in Captain Fanshawe. War is a few parts intrigue and espionage, after all, and there’s someone who’s been selling England’s secrets to the French. Who that someone is is the mystery Theo is determined to unravel, never once suspecting his investigation might lead him to love nor would lead the trail of clues directly back to himself.
The plot and the romance between Hugh and Theo doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel in terms of storytelling—there is betrayal amongst Theo’s lies of omission; by necessity, they must be discreet; theirs is a bond based in lust that grows into something deeper—but with an impressive and obvious attention to detail and language and some of the most basic constructs of Regency Romance, Sarah Granger has crafted a novel that left me wanting so much more of Hugh and Theo.
The utterly effortless manner in which this book reads did for me what others have done before—Tamara Allen, Hayden Thorne, Jess Faraday, Charlie Cochrane, Charlie Cochet, Jordan L. Hawk, K.J. Charles… The list goes on—she allowed me to escape into Hugh and Theo’s world for just a bit, introduced strong characters who so capably charmed and wended their way through their story, and made me glad I’m such a huge fan of historical fiction.