It is 1643 and the Civil War rages throughout England...
The book is set in Hampshire where some bitter fighting took place. For the Main Character, Nick Howard, his loyalty to his King is clear. After success as a scout and patrol leader, he's recruited to be a spy posing as a surgeon deep in Parliament dominated territory. Events slowly spin out of control as he falls in love with the wife of a parliament colonel.
This is a good read, even though it seems like it might be a "woman's romance" it isn't. The main characters have real personalities and unlike so many modern novels they have some dignity and yes, private lives away from even the reader's prying eyes. So this is a novel in the Rosemary Sutcliffe style and Ms. Lawrence provides plenty of period detail among her representative characters.
Like most modern authors, there's weak comprehension and presentation on religious matters which is unfortunate as the congregational movement was the heart and soul of the Parliament side and deserves more than it gets here. On the other hand, Nick's loyalty to King Charles isn't explained either, not even the dubious stability the monarchy provided that was lost when the king was beheaded.
So a tightly written and satisfying character study without a lot of reflection. But since that's the way so many live, it has a ring of truth about it. In any event, it's much more refined than reading Nicholas Carter, who clearly has a low opinion of humanity in general. Overall, if you're a fan of the ECW period, this is a great deal from the library or the $5 to get your own hardback as I've done!
FYI, the cover is a detail from the painting The Siege of Basing House by Ernest Croft.
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