Thursday, March 12, 2015

Susanna Fraser - The Sergeant's Lady

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?

Comment: This is the sequel to A Marriage of Inconvenience, which I've read last month. I have to say this book has an end we kind of already knew because the epilogue of the previous book gives us an idea of how Anna's life went, for the was a key player in the first book as well. Still, nothing like seeing how the author did the story anyway.

Anna has been miserable in her marriage and all the beautiful dreams she had when she fell in love came apart when she realized her husband's true colors. Now she follows the drum, something she feels a bit like deserved punishment and duty. When her husband dies she can only think of going back home and forget she was ever married.
Will Atkins is the best kind of soldier, smart, loyal, attentive. He comes from a poor farmer family but he knows he will have something to return to after the war ends. However, his heart id on the adventures ahead. He feels attracted to Anna when he meets her and even more when she joins the wounded convoy to Lisbon. But fate ha something for both of them...

I liked this book but slightly less then the other one. I think the story is simply told, simply engineered, easily read but there's something I can't really pinpoint about it that makes me wrinkle my nose. I don't know if it's the characters themselves, or their interactions, or the way they act, but something isn't as perfect as I wished for.

I think the plot and the obvious research the author did about what happened on those Napoleonic wars are quite well thought. Living myself in Portugal, where part of the action takes place (in a generic way though), something about it calls to me, because it's always interesting to see places we recognize on foreign books. I think the descriptions and ideas behind the war scenes were done to the exact amount of detail to push the story along but not over the top. I liked how the author contained herself in this part of the story.

The characters.
Ok, here I have some doubts, and some personal likes and dislikes that of course affect my view of things. Will is a wonderful character, he is everything a soldier and a friend should be. But he's restless and the fact he's at war only energizes him, and doesn't make him want to settle down and live a more quiet life. I get it that not everyone wants or needs or likes quiet, but after ll his considerable virtues, I kind of wished him to not feel so pressured to think he might be trapped when the war ended. His choice in the end is not so bad, but I admit it I wanted something different - even knowing it wouldn't happen.

Anna is that woman that somehow feels something isn't right but only realizes it fully after nothing can be done. Her marriage changes the exact day her wedding takes place and she never recovers fully from the experience of being married to Sebastien. I think she is one of those characters ahead of her time in terms of behavior and wishes - being very rich helps that - and only after meeting Will and falling for him during the run they make from the enemy, does she really change her thoughts. 
I liked how they ended well together but their forward ideas of braving new world isn't my preferred cup of tea in books. I like more down to earth characters in books.

Sebastien, the husband, doesn't have such a prominent place int he book and his demise is rather fast and stupid. I don't mind not having to see him or deal with his presence through the book, I confess. But I felt his end was rushed for plot's purpose and maybe things could have been done smoother.

The book is mostly about Anna and Will falling in love, deciding is best to separate, the war happens around them and after their fate is sealed only the HEA remains to happen. I liked the overall idea and development process but yes, some little elements weren't completely well done for me.
Grade: 7/10

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