Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer

Olivia Grace has secrets that could destroy her. One of the greatest of these is the Earl of Gracechurch, who married and divorced her five years earlier. Abandoned and disgraced, Grace has survived those years at the edge of respectability. Then she stumbles over Jack on the battlefield of Waterloo, and he becomes an even more dangerous secret. For not only is he unconscious, he is clad in an enemy uniform.

But worse, when Jack finally wakes in Olivia's care, he can't remember how he came to be on a battlefield in Belgium. In fact, he can remember nothing of the last five years. He thinks he and Olivia are still blissfully together. To keep him from being hanged for a traitor, Olivia must pretend she and Jack are still married.

To unearth the real traitors, Olivia and Jack must unravel the truth hidden within his faulty memory. To save themselves and the friends who have given them sanctuary, they must stand against their enemies, even as they both keep their secrets.

In the end, can they risk everything to help Jack recover his lost memories, even though the truth may destroy them both?

This book has been sitting on my shelf since its release.  I skipped to the end, saw when the second book of the series would release, and promptly reshelved because I knew I wouldn't remember the plot of this book sufficiently enough to read and enjoy the second book.  This was both good and bad: good because I didn't have to wait long to read the second book, Never a Gentleman; and bad because I cannot believe I let such a good book just sit there without cracking the spine!  

Olivia has secrets, oh, does she have secrets.  They start to cave in on her almost immediately, which makes for an excellent suspense plot as the reader attempts to sort out what may be truth and what may be fiction.  One point utterly shocked the heck out of me.  I'm not sure how I didn't see it coming, but Olivia is a skilled and convincing liar. 

Along the way, we're introduced to Grace Fairchild (heroine of Never a Gentleman), who grew up all over the world, thanks to her father's various military campaigns, Lady Kate Gilbey (heroine of Always a Temptress), a "fallen" duchess, Bea, Lady Kate's companion, and various members of Drake's Rakes.  This trilogy should have been called "The Graces" rather than Drake's Rakes; Lady Kate even makes a joke that she, Olivia and Grace all have 'grace' in their names. 

I really was sorry to see Barely a Lady end.  Olivia, for all her necessary deceptions, is a strong and capable heroine, as Grace realizes when they go in search of Grace's father on the battlefield.  I also liked that the historical timeline took place during the Napoleonic wars.  I cannot wait to read the remaining novels in this trilogy, and I also hope there will be more to come.     

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