Friday, November 18, 2016

The Traitor - Grace Burrowes (Sourcebooks Casablanca - Aug 2014)

Series: Captive Hearts (Book 2)

The past will overtake him...
Abandoned in France since boyhood, despite being heir to an English barony, Sebastian St. Clair makes impossible choices to survive a tour of duty in the French Army. He returns to England hoping for the peaceful life of a country gentleman, though old enemies insist on challenging him on the field of honor, one after another.

But this time, he will not fight alone...
Millicent Danforth desperately needs her position as companion to the Traitor Baron's aunt, but grieves to learn that Sebastian must continually fight a war long over. As Sebastian and Milly explore their growing passion, they uncover a plot that will cost Sebastian his life and his honor, unless he does battle once more-this time in the name of love.

Good book. Sebastian first appeared in the previous book, The Captive, as the man who carried out the torture on the English prisoners. The truth of who he is was revealed at the end of the book. Now Sebastian is back home in England, trying to put his life back together. Unfortunately for him, some of the men he dealt with during the war are challenging him to duels. He comes home from his latest duel to find his aunt interviewing a new companion.

Milly has gone into service to escape a miserable home life. She is the "poor relation" and has been relegated to unpaid drudgery in her cousins' home. Following the advice of her late aunt, she applies to be the companion of Lady Frederica St. Clair. I loved the interview, as Milly is pretty unflappable, and Lady Freddie is one of those outspoken old ladies who loves to shock people. In mid-interview, Sebastian arrives.

Their first encounter is brief but quite interesting, He wonders if she is all that she seems, she notices that in looks and attitude he seems to be the opposite of her. The next morning Sebastian finds her working on a flower arrangement and swoops in for his investigation. I loved their conversation, as he pries and she answers in her own way. In spite of his abilities as an interrogator, Milly holds her own quite well, and he accepts her presence in his aunt's life. They don't see each other much until Sebastian accompanies Milly, at his aunt's orders, when her aunt dies. I loved seeing them exchanging stories, as they got to know each other. Besides what was on the surface, each of them sensed some of the other's inner turmoil. Milly aches for the circumstances that made Sebastian the man he is now. Sebastian continues to be impressed by Milly's intelligence and strength. He also senses that there is something she is hiding and is determined to discover what it is.

I loved how Sebastian figured out her secret and, rather than condemning her for it, instead makes a point of helping her. I loved watching him stand up for her against her nasty cousin when he came to try to take her away. Spending time together as he helps her, the two of them grow closer. The attraction between them also grows, to the point where Sebastian has trouble concentrating when she is around.

Milly turns out to be quite ferocious in her attitude about Sebastian. She sees how he is haunted by his actions during the war and can't help being moved by it. She is adamant in her opinion that he has nothing to be ashamed of, as it was all part of being at war. I loved the way that she saw the good in him, even when he couldn't.

I had wondered at the end of the last book how the author was going to turn a pretty terrible villain into a hero. In this one we see how he is haunted by the memories, to the point where he accepts the challenges of all that accuse him. He fully expects that one of them will succeed in killing him, and almost looks forward to it happening. I ached for him and his desire to move on with his life, while at the same time believing that he doesn't deserve it.

I loved the development of their romance. When a passionate kiss between them is witnessed, Sebastian does the right thing and marries Milly. He doesn't feel that he is worthy of anything as wonderful as what their marriage could be. Suddenly he has much to lose if he is killed, and he becomes determined to find out who is behind the constant attacks on him. He also worries that he has put Milly in danger.  Milly throws herself into their marriage, determined to do whatever she must to make Sebastian happy. She doesn't believe that she has what it takes to be his baroness, but she is willing to try. I loved seeing her stand up to him and for him in her efforts to show him that he doesn't deserve the hate he has for himself. His protectiveness towards her has him keeping secrets from her, wanting to shield her from the more unsavory parts of his past. But Milly doesn't want protecting, and lets him know in no uncertain terms. I loved the scene on the dueling field as she comes to save him. It was pretty funny to see both men's reactions to her presence. It takes some effort, but both Sebastian and Milly let go of their own self doubts and embrace the love they have for each other.

The identity of who is behind the attacks is not a surprise as we get his point of view several times during the book. However, the full scope of his vendetta against Sebastian isn't known until the end. There is a very interesting twist involving Wellington that comes to light at the end. I loved the confrontation at Wellington's dinner party and how the truth sets Sebastian free.

I am looking forward to reading Brodie's story.

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