Paperback: 384 pages
Source of my copy: from the publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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?
Michelle's Review: (possible spoilers)
The premise of Barely a Lady, the first book in the Drake's Rakes series, was interesting: the hero Jack is an earl and he marries Olivia, a vicar's daughter. They had eleven months of a passionate wedded bliss but his family was against the match and did all they can, with a lot of help from Jack's manipulative evil cousin Gervaise, to separate them. They finally succeeded when Jack found Olivia in the arms of her "lover"--Jack promptly divorced her and tossed her out without a backward glance. Her own family disowned her and Olivia was left with nothing and had to survive on her own as a ruined woman. For five years, Olivia took a different name and hid from society because Gervaise was still after her and she being divorced left her a social pariah. Olivia was in Brussels helping to nurse soldiers when she found a wounded Jack (wearing the uniform of the enemy) close to death in the battlefield. Olivia takes him in but soon found that Jack lost his memory and thinks they are still married. Now, Olivia, who finds herself still attracted to her husband, must help Jack recover his memory before Jack is found and hanged a traitor.
I was really looking forward to reading this book because the hero and heroine were already married and are getting a second chance (one of my favorite romance themes), it is the author's first foray into historical romance (prior she wrote romantic suspense) and I saw it recommended on Publisher's Weekly. I ended up really liking it but I did have issues with the two leads. First, Olivia--she was too perfect and too nice--a long-suffering martyr! After all Jack and his family did to her and the hardship she endured because he didn't trust her, she just took him in. Even at the risk of not only her being charged of aiding a possible traitor but also of her new friends. When Jack recovered his memory and started accusing her of cheating on him again, I wanted her to hurt him or scream at him but all she did was clench her fist and took it. As for Jack, it seems like he will believe everyone else before he believes his wife. He did do a lot of grovelling in the end and that made me feel better but before that I wanted to shake him and knock some sense into him! These two frustrated me at times but they did have a lot of touching scenes together that made me go "awww..." In the end, I believed in their love (even though I haven't entirely forgiven Jack and I thought Gervaise got off easy) and I rooted for them to work things out.
Overall, it was a good read and I really liked it. It's a fast-paced historical and it has interesting secondary characters whose own book I'm itching to read. The intimate scenes were surprisingly spicy, though most were flashbacks from the time Olivia and Jack were married. I thought the novel well-written and I like the author's voice. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. 4 out of 5 stars