I reviewed book 1 and book 2 of this excellent trilogy lat last year. And I have to say that book 3 does not disappoint. Another moving and compelling tale of loyalty, loss and love in the dangerous and uncertain times of mid 17th century England.
Ms Stuart once again hauntingly evokes the tension and uncertainty of the times. Again plot and counter plot entwine themselves about the hapless characters. Even more strongly, she conveys the utter helplessness of a woman alone and the even greater helplessness of a woman with two orphaned children in her care. What might be called these days ‘collateral damage’, Agnes Fletcher is just another victim of the fall-out of the political battle between Commonwealth and King that ran over twenty-odd years.
The final book brings together the threads of the previous two, and we find Jonathan and Kate Thornton from book 1 and Kit and Thamsine Lovell from book 2 drawn into the danger and daring of the final audacious act.
In a revealing little interlude between Agnes and Daniel, the author touches the heart of the enduring fascination with the doggedly loyal Royalists. Hope requires a lot more courage than despair in dark times. The laconic awareness with which the protagonists approach the final mad venture, is deeply moving. There is hard-nosed and hard-won realism behind the all-or-nothing attitude that speaks of immense moral and physical courage. I think Ms Stuart has conveyed this beautifully throughout the three books of this trilogy. The Royalists weren’t just romantic fools, they were intelligent and talented men – and often subtle and devious withal – with a great deal to lose, knowing clearly what they were putting on the line for their belief in the rightful claim of their monarch.
No wonder we swoon at the thought of the Royalists giving their all for their beloved King. Charles must have been quite a guy to inspire such love and loyalty for so many lean years. Yes, there were some in it for what they felt they could get, and a shrewd recognition of the consummate political and negotiating talent Charles II displayed. Nevertheless, much courage was still required to be exiled and poor for so long.
The ending coincides with the Restoration and is satisfying and credible, with a hopeful future inevitably shadowed but not shaped by a tragic past.
This trilogy as a satisfying, well written historical romance of the English Civil War. There is a sufficiently realistic feel for the times and an excellent balance of adventure and romance. The characters are wonderfully appealing and stay with you after the book is done. In short, a splendidly entertaining read. Recommended.