I absolutely did not like this story. Of the heroine, Elizabeth, making preparations to marry a man she hated all the whilst doing the deed with 'her one true love.' It didn't help that the bad guy, Pymm, was a national hero second only to Wellington at Waterloo. And the lover, Rowland Manning, seemed to have been a baddie in a previous novel written by the author.
Elizabeth was being blackmailed by Pymm because she received letters from her uncle, Napoleon's commander at Waterloo. Are you telling me that no-one else knew she was related to this soldier? And you know what? I myself might feel suspicious of Elizabeth in such circumstances. Elizabeth also believed that Pymm had used the cover of battle to murder her father. But there was very little development of that plot throughout the book. I have no idea why Pymm was so obsessed with Elizabeth. Nor was it explained why Elizabeth believed it was her fault that her father and Pierce Winters had been killed. Nor could I understand what on earth Sarah was doing in the plot, apart from maybe being prepared to be the heroine of the next book by the author. Why would anyone be interested in the plodding romance between granny Ata and Brownie. None of these side plots were ever developed in any way. Mysteries were dangled in front of the reader...and just left...to be continued elsewhere. Was I supposed to care?
Sarah was going to pimp herself out to Pymm so that Rowland would get the money owed to him by the Cavalry. Why would she do that? She's met him about a week ago. It's not as though he saved her life or anything like that. Basically she just felt sorry for him for various reasons. There were too many references to Rowland's previous nasty deeds to his brother and the brother's fiance for a reader to feel that he deserved such a sacrifice. And just a thought. Maybe Pymm himself had also had a difficult upbringing. The reader was given no choice to decide who was the better person between him and Rowland.
It was good that Elizabeth understood all Rowland's strange habits and that he fell in love with her. But what they should have done is just eloped and then sailed to the colonies in the New World to start a life away from from the stultifying expectations of titled friends and relatives.
In the end it became increasingly painful to read of Elizabeth's deceptions to both Pymm and Rowland. For the sake of a lot of money? And as I said before, the reader basically had to take Elizabeth's word about the murder of her father. What was the evidence for that belief?
The characters in the book kept each other in the dark about their various motivations, the reader was kept in the dark about the many on-going threads in the book and in the end I was just exasperated with the whole story.
The big mistake in the plot is to make the friend of a national hero into a baddie. While the main couple seemed to be of no better character than him...a novel with no cultural heart.