Thursday, January 13, 2011

Recent Read

The Sergeant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser

Why this one: I loved the cover, I heard good things about it and the price, coming from Carina, was excellent.

Steam Level: Nice and Steamy

Blurb: Highborn Anna Arrington has been "following the drum," obeying the wishes of her cold, controlling cavalry officer husband. When he dies, all she wants is to leave life with Wellington's army in Spain behind her and go home to her family's castle in Scotland.

Sergeant Will Atkins ran away from home to join the army in a fit of boyish enthusiasm. He is a natural born soldier, popular with officers and men alike, uncommonly brave and chivalrous, and educated and well-read despite his common birth.

As Anna journeys home with a convoy of wounded soldiers, she forms an unlikely friendship with Will. When the convoy is ambushed and their fellow soldiers captured, they become fugitives—together. The attraction between them is strong—but even if they can escape the threat of death at the hands of the French, is love strong enough to bridge the gap between a viscount's daughter and an innkeeper's son?

My thoughts: There are some similarities with this book to the one I recently read and reviewed, Sing my Name in that the hero and heroine come from different social backgrounds. This is an English Historical rather than a Western, but other than that they were two different stories.

This one starts out with our hero Will, trying to help a friend who’s in labour while on the move in Spain during the English/French war. The heroine, Anna, comes along to offer her assistance, but it’s soon clean she is married to a real jerk when he rides up and orders Anna away from the ‘riffraff of the common soldier. But Anna has spunk and refuses to leave, instead staying to assist Will, even though neither have participated in a birth before. During this time, a bond is established. Anna admires Will and Will admires Anna, at the same time, recognizing that Anna is married to a very difficult man. Though both fully admit to themselves any kind of relationship is impossible, still, neither can forget the either. When Anna’s husband meets his demise, Anna’s plan is to return to her home in the Highlands of Scotland and Will is part of the regiment that escorts her and a number of wounded soldiers to the coast. They are thrown together again when they are captured by the French and then forced to flee. Their attraction grows but even though Anna’s husband is out of the picture, their different stations in life are still a real barrier.

Like Sing my Name, I found this one to be a poignant story of two people who want to be together, who aren’t quite complete without the other, but who are kept apart due to society. Both are people to be admired. Will is a simple man, yet one to be admired. He entered the army in his youth to seek out adventure and has been quite happy doing what he’s doing. He’s a rifleman in the army and of course while reading I kept thinking of Sean Ben in Sharpe’s Rifles, not a bad picture to keep in mind.

For her part Anna is also a good heroine. She realizes fairly early into her marriage that she has made a huge mistake, but she is doing the best that she can. She is compassionate to others, brave when called for. As with Sing My Name, there is a bit of a road story when Anna and Will are travelling back to his regiment. When they reach it and are forced to remain apart, there is such palpable longing in each of them for the other. If I had any wishes, it would just be that it was longer. I hated to finish this one so soon. But I hasten to add that it was because I was enjoying it; not that I felt it was lacking in any way.

This book was a treat to read and I hope the author has more books coming.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5


Lori said...

I really enjoyed this one, too, Kristie. I think that there are so few really good books out there that really look at the life of a soldier in war, instead of whitewashing it for the sake of the romance. I thought this was one of them. Plus, it had a very sweet romance in it, too!

Kristie (J) said...

Lori: I enjoyed seeing the life of the everyday soldier too!! Like you say - so few concentrate on this aspect with most of the soldiers being officers or spys. And I confess to wondering how the author was going to bring them together - but I think she did it in a good way without comprimising what kept them apart.

nath said...

Man Kristie, you're on a roll with good books :)

For some reason, that picture you posted makes me think the book takes place during the Civil War in the USA ^_^; Too much North and South - the Patrick Swayze kind :P

sounds like a great book :)

Leslie said...

I like that the hero is the commoner and the heroine is the titled. So often it's the other way around.

Susanna Fraser said...

Thanks for the review, Kristie, and I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

I have a prequel coming out in April, about Anna's brother and his wife, and I just got the cover yesterday.

nath, I agree that Rifle uniforms look a bit ahead of their time and therefore Civil War-ish because they're not as blingy as most Napoleonic-era uniforms--primitive camouflage since riflemen often fought from cover as skirmishers and sharpshooters instead of in tight formation like most infantry. Also, on my cover (which I love) I kinda suspect the designer worked from a Civil War uniform and changed the color and design a bit. :-)

orannia said...

Lovely review Kristie - thank you!

I read a review on this last year and liked it, but didn't action said like! But I've written a big note to myself to hunt it down online at Carina Press because it sounds great...and I was watching the Sharpe episodes on TV at the end of last year. I have to say, women were treated terribly! (I suppose the episodes kept that real, but....)