This book blew my expectations out of the water. I went into this unsure how I would react to both the characters and the subject matter. It's a historical romance set in England (Sussex and England) with the American Revolution playing an important part in the story-telling. But more than that, it was a story of a young woman who for 6 years had no one to take her back, no to protect her, and no one to help her, as she tried to keep her (and by extension her sister, Lucy) out of the dastardly grasp of Mr. Dodge.
What a jerk that guy was. More than a jerk by the end in fact since he turned into a violent, assaulting douche bag who I wished someone had shot. Sadly, this doesn't happen. However, he does get his. And I loved just how that happened and who the person (or persons) were that saw to his demise.
Ryan. There is so much to say, and swoon over, when it comes to Ryan. When he meets Emily he doesn't hide his attraction, his lust for her. And surprisingly, nor does she. But slowly, and most assuradley, he sees that there is more to Emily than meets the eye. He knows there is a mystery there, secrets that are close to smothering her along with the responsibilities she has to carry as a result of things beyond her control, and soon wants more than just her body. He wants her. Body and soul, all of her. This is of course in direct conflict with his mission but he pursues Emily anyway. There was intrigue and suspense, murder and a lot of heartbreak. There was a woman trying to get between our hero and heroine, one who I wished was thrown in Newgate Prison just because of how mean, dastardly and in a way, evil she is. She cared not for the damage she left in her wake and her selfishness was obvious and deplorable. (As you can tell, I hated Ms. Turner. Hated her!) But through it all, while juggling tasks which could lead him to hang for being a spy, Ryan still looked out for his Emmie. He protected her even when she pushed him away and even when, on the surface it seemed that all hope for the two of them was lost. Ryan was a fantastic hero and has been added to my historical book boyfriend list. Seriously. The guy was alpha, hot, protective, sexy, and bad-ass in the best ways possible and I couldn't get enough of him.
And let me say a few words about Emily. I was worried when I started this book. Worried that, like several of the heroines I've read of in the last week, I'd be annoyed, frustrated and want to throttle her to pieces by the end of the book. I am thankful this was not the case. Not at all. Emily was a strong, independent, fierce, protective, loving and gorgeous woman, with only a small amount of recklessness thrown in. And in Emily's case, her recklessness I approved of 100 percent. I would have done the same in those circumstances for myself and the people I loved. She showed her cleverness and courage and for that, she was rewarded. She did she do what she had to save her family home, her sister's (and family's) reputation), and the love of her life, and she did it fearlessly, or as fearlessly as is possible when the threat of torture and hanging and looming. Emily stood up to French Captains, the King's men, spies, and villains; sacrificed her own happiness for that of those she loved, no matter the personal cost, and endangered her very life, all for the same reason. Love.
Devaux and Lucy were adorable and I loved seeing how their story played out. It was both adorable, sweet and I was happy to see that, in making her final preparations, Emily made sure that the two would have a secure future, unblemished by her "deeds" or "misdeeds" depending on which side you're on. In addition, the fierceness and loyally of Bridey and Mary, and Simon too, was heart-warming. They all risked so much to save Oak Hill, and each other, from ruin. They worked together and protected one another even though doing so risked all their lives.
The end was bittersweet in some ways, given the decision that is made, but also beautiful and in my opinion, perfect. I loved every second of it and I admit, I even gave a heavy, satisfied sigh at the end. I would have loved an epilogue though, to see how everyone fared after the final act, but only because I am an epilogue-loving fool and didn't want the story to end. I know, I'm a bit greedy like that.
The author's writing technique and style was excellent. I only saw one editing error (the word "save" was used instead of, I think "safe". Not trying to be nitpicky and of course such a small issue didn't detract from my rating one bit.) This is definitely a book I could read again and again, and plan to!
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*