Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Rebel (Rogues Redeemed)Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues Redeemed, #2

Release Date: August 29, 2017

If you like friends to lovers stories – you will love this book.

Catherine Callista Brooke (aka Callie) and Lord George Gordon Richard Augustus Audley (aka Richard aka Gordon) have been the best of friends since they were children. So when Callie’s father tells her that he has arranged her marriage to a much older widowed plantation owner and that she will be married immediately and go with him to Jamaica, she is frantic and turns to Richard for help running away. Richard is the rebellious third son of the Marquess of Kingston, when Callie comes to him for help, he doesn’t hesitate, he suggests that they go to Scotland to marry. When they are caught by their fathers, Callie agrees to marry the man her father has chosen if he will spare Richard’s life. Her father agrees, but trumps up charges and has Richard transported to New South Wales.

Fifteen years later, Richard is back in London (if you read the Lost Lords series, you might remember him as Gordon – a classmate and minor character in those books) and Lord Kirkwood has an assignment for him. He needs him to go to America and find the widow Audley and either return her to her family in England or ensure her wellbeing in America. This task will be dangerous as England is at war with America – but helping people is what Richard does best and he accepts the mission.

Callie is now widowed and has moved her “family” to Washington and assumed the identity of the widow Audley to escape her vile step-son Henry. When her husband died, he made no final provisions for his two illegitimate children with his mistress. His children are quadroons and Henry considers them slaves and wanted to sell them, Callie has grown to love the children and fled to America rather than let Henry sell them. She has worked hard and established herself as seamstress, all is going well until the British invade Washington. Fearing for her family, she sends them to Baltimore and stays behind to protect the house. She is inadvertently caught up in skirmish, her house is burned to the ground and she is in grave danger when Richard arrives and claims that she is his wife.

Callie and Richard are shocked to see one another again, Callie had been told that Richard died en route to New South Wales. Richard is overjoyed to find Callie and again offers to marry her. Callie politely declines but agrees to act the part of his wife to get to Baltimore. Richard decides that Callie is the woman for him and plans to use the time to woo her. They risk life and limb to get to Baltimore and arrive to find that Callie’s extended family is safe and sound – however Baltimore is preparing for the British to attack – so there will be no easy escape for them. As they spend more time together, the more they begin to fallback into their easy friendship and Callie begins to realize that everything is changing, she is no longer quintessential to her “family” and she begins to think that marrying Richard and returning to England might be exactly what she needs. Just when it seems that her life might finally be looking up, she is faced with yet another challenge – her stepson Henry has found them. After a horrifying encounter with Henry and surviving the Battle of Baltimore – Callie agrees to marry Richard and return to England.

Once they return to England, there are more shocks in store for our lovers, such as the identity of the sister that betrayed them 15 years and the discovery that both their fathers have passed and through the fickle hand of fate – Richard is now the Marquess of Kingston. Determined to make the best of their newly rewritten future, Callie and Richard venture to the Kingston family estate to confront Richard’s younger brothers. All seems to be falling into place, when another tragedy strikes them and secrets are revealed and Richard is forced to do the unthinkable to save the woman he loves more than life itself.

This book was really well done, it has an almost epic feel to it and flows perfectly. It has a lot of history, surprising cameos, steamy love scenes, life and death moments, lighthearted moments and a truly lovely soulmate type of love. My only complaint is this book really needed an epilogue – I was left wondering what happened to her family in America and what became of her unresolved feelings with her sister. Other than that, which admittedly is very minor – I enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it. It is the second book in the series, but they are very loosely connected and there would be no reason this book could not be read as a stand alone title.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review of an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

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Avid reader (and reviewer) of historical romance.

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