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4.0 out of 5 stars It’s 1644 and Royalist Cavalier Justin Ambrose has been relegated to duty at the soon-to-be-besieged Banbury Castle. While the Royalists hold the castle for the King the townspeople are solidly Puritan, including Abigail (Abby) Radford. Although Justin originally thinks of Abby in a sisterly fashion, their friendship eventually blossoms into something more as England’s Civil War rages around them. Outside forces threaten to part them forever, including the religious fervor of Abby’s brother and a dark secret from Justin’s past. Will Justin be able to set aside his past and declare his love for Abby? Is Abby willing to be the wife of a mercenary soldier traveling from camp to camp? Can Abby escape her zealot brother’s attempts to marry her to a depraved monster?

Inquiring minds want to know but I’m not telling. This was a very sweet tale (loved the ending!) of two fictional characters set into actual historical events, as they are caught up in the midst of a country and people at war with each other. There’s plenty of action, treachery, passion, a Parliamentarian spy with a knack for poison as well as sparks flying between Justin and Abby (although it’s very clean) and I had a hard time putting this one down – and oooh I want a Justin for my very own. What a man. The only caution I’d give if you’re new to this period and not very familiar with the history I’d read a few other books first so you’re more grounded on the period – Pamela Belle’s Wintercombe series is a great start.

Riley’s books are very rare and horrendously expensive, but I’m glad I was able to snatch up a copy reasonably cheap (also got even better luck on Garland of Straw). I originally tried for an ILL and received a note that there was one library left to ask but they would be asking for a $15 service charge. I poked around the UK used sellers and got lucky so don’t give up hope – keep scouring those used book stores and library sales. Four stars.

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