by Carla F., guest reviewer
Summary: Be quiet. Be obedient. Don’t displease the family. Don’t reveal your true feelings. These are the rules that Lucy Jones has lived by since she and her brothers were saved from the workhouse by their uncle and aunt after the death of Lucy’s parents. Lucy has always been very grateful to the family for that.
She is surprised when her handsome cousin Sebastian offers for her hand in marriage. Lucy has been in love with Sebastian for a long time and even though she knows that Sebastian doesn’t love her, she accepts. However, Sebastian’s mother wants to keep the engagement a secret until Lucy’s cousin Portia is married.
Before the wedding Lucy and Sebastian travel to the home of Portia’s intended. There they meet the dashing Lord Selsley (James Wright-Gordon) and his beautiful sister Anna. Lucy is dismayed and hurt to see that Sebastian is very attracted to Anna, but then Lucy is drawn towards Lord Selsley.
Review (perhaps spoilers): This story is a prequel to The Sergeant's Lady, which was about Anna. Fraser has written this story about Anna’s brother James, but a lot of the story has to deal with Anna and Sebastian’s courtship and unhappy marriage. The stories are so intertwined that it would be difficult to not tell them together, and in fact, the story is told from the point of view of all four characters. Having Anna’s and Sebastian’s points of view makes this seem less like James and Lucy's story. I certainly didn’t want that to happen because James and Lucy are two great characters.
James is not your typical Lord in a romance novel. The point is made that he is short. (I cannot remember ever reading a romance where the hero was considered short.) He is arrogant; he is vain about his clothing and his horsemanship. With all that though he loves his family, particularly his sister and wants to protect her at all costs. He is also intelligent, and has a good sense of humor. Most importantly he is not a snob. He doesn’t look down on people like Lucy who are in a lower level of society.
Poor Lucy. It would be horrible to be rescued from a workhouse, but then to never really feel a part of the family and worry about you and your brothers being safe and secure. She is afraid of “making waves” so much that she makes herself unobtrusive and buries her real personality. It is not a surprise to learn that she has control issues.
Overall: The characters of hero and heroine make this a wonderful read. It will also be of interest to anyone who read The Sergeant’s Lady and want to read the background about Anna and her first marriage. (Reading this one has made me want to dig up my copy of that book and reread it.)