Series: Lords of the Armory #2
Publication Date: 2/23/21
Number of Pages: 320
This author always imbues her stories with all of the “feels”, and she has certainly outdone herself this time. Harrington has managed to squeeze a beautiful second-chance romance together with a suspenseful mystery that will keep you reading well into the night. I thought it was beautifully romantic, poignant, and heartbreaking when you learned what these two had been through – yet, they still loved each other after years of separation. It is definitely a sigh-worthy read!
The time is just after the Napoleonic wars and the English soldiers have returned to England. Many of them have a hard time adjusting to civilian life after the stress of war, but no help is offered. Many have lost limbs, sight, hearing, or suffer from what we would call PTSD today. Life after the wars is definitely not what these dedicated, loyal men would have chosen for themselves. There are few, if any, jobs available and many of the former soldiers were forced to live on the streets (sound familiar?). Now, there is a new threat to the realm – one nobody even knew existed until the sinister organization came after the Duke of Braddock’s sister. After his sister’s death, Braddock (An Inconvenient Duke), a former general, formed the Armory. The Armory is a place where soldiers from his former command can find sanctuary and maybe even help – and where they will band together to find and stamp out the sedition group known as Scepter.
Twelve years ago, Brigadier Brandon Pearce, Earl of Sandhurst, was an eighteen-year-old orphaned ragamuffin who lived with an innkeeper uncle in Birmingham. Being caught with a neighbor’s sixteen-year-old daughter was both the making of him – and the shattering of him. Her father was a rich merchant, and after beating Brandon, he banished him. Brandon’s distant relative bought him an officer’s commission and his career was born. Brandon always loved that girl – and never forgot her – but knew she was above him and they could never be together. He always assumed she’d moved on, married, etc. – until he saw her across the room at a masked ball in London after he returned as a war hero – and inherited a title he didn’t expect. He quickly realizes his feelings haven’t changed, but she doesn’t trust him, treats him as an enemy, and is keeping secrets. He’s investigating her brother Frederick because the Armory is sure he is part of Scepter – is she also mixed up in it?
Amelia Howard was totally and completely devastated twelve-years-ago when she was torn away from the boy she loved and was sent to the far reaches of Scotland. She was threatened with terrible retributions if she dared to try to get in touch with him – and she knew her father would follow-through on those threats. She has loved that boy ever since – even though she’s tried to move on with her life. Fate just seems to have a vendetta against her – and it has shown itself in full-force when she meets Pearce at a ball in London. Goodness, how she’d love to be able to resume their relationship – she knows she still loves him – and always will. But there are things he can’t know – secrets she must keep, so she must avoid him at all costs. However, the persistent man won’t let her avoid him. He is everywhere she is – and her brother Frederick is pushing her to influence Pearce for him.
Pearce will do whatever it takes to keep Amelia safe, to protect her, but he has to learn all of her secrets before he can make a plan forward. I loved seeing Pearce doing all he could to regain Amelia’s trust – and that was no easy task – with good reason. I also loved seeing Amelia grow from Fate’s victim to Fate’s master. She grew from an accepting victim to someone who was strong and independent. I loved seeing the two of them overcome the obstacles that stood in the way of their HEA, but I wasn’t in love with the final solution of how they were going to be together.
I can highly recommend this book, this series, and this author. However, for me personally, had it been absolutely any other author, I would have bypassed the book as soon as I read the references to ‘feminist’ in the blurb. Yes, I firmly believe in being equal, but I detest that term that has, for me, become a negative. I loved the story and I’m glad I read it, so I’m glad I didn’t see that blurb before I just automatically requested the book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.