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Susanna Fraser likes to put her characters in difficult situations: In An Infamous Marriage, her hero and heroine (a married couple) were reunited after five years apart and now need to deal with the husband's infidelity. In The Sergeant's Lady, the problem is two-fold: there's the issue of Anna being newly-widowed (and still in mourning), and the issue of Anna being a very wealthy heiress whereas Will is merely the second son of a simple innkeeper.
I was initially reluctant to continue reading this when I discovered this would be about Will and Anna traveling through the Portuguese countryside after he helps her escape a rape attempt by their French captor, but I decided to continue, because I was really intrigued by the chemistry between our hero and heroine. From their first meeting, there was an excitement that Anna felt with Will that she never felt with her husband, and, Will, who seemed to be more interested in books than in women, was instantly drawn to Anna as well.
Susanna Fraser puts the spotlight on how her hero and heroine react to falling in love with each other. In most cases, love is a source of joy and excitement, but Will and Anna don't see love the same way most people would: I like how cautiously Anna approaches her new feelings for Will. She's already been burned before with her hasty marriage to Captain Sebastian Arrington She thought she was in love. She thought he was the one. She thought she was going to live happily ever after with her husband. But it was two years of unhappiness and regret for Anna, and she wants to be certain she isn't making the same mistake again.
...Swept off her feet by a dignified, grave young cavalry officer, so different from the gentlemen who had courted her during her London Seasons, she had married in haste, but also in good faith. She had looked forward to the new adventuress awaiting her as an officer's lady, and she had intended to be his devoted helpmeet. But then one dreadful night she had discovered had not known her new husband at all.
- p. 23
Will is an admirable hero who rose through the ranks to become sergeant. I love how he reacted to Anna -- it's part anticipation, part dread. Love is always an exciting thing, but Will knew that this new blessing in his life came with strings attached.
I actually didn't mind all the traveling that Will and Anna did because it really heightened the drama of their forbidden love: they're all alone, with no one to see or know or judge what they do -- but they struggle to maintain their distance and to resist the temptation, which is a testament to how honorable they both are. But good intentions are no match for love, and our hero and heroine succumb to each other. The author continues with the theme of the double-edged sword here: Will and Anna are both in awe and in fear of the next level of their relationship. And, at this point, you just really want them to get their happy ending.
"Ma'am," he said, not meeting her eyes, "we can't keep forgetting ourselves like we did in that cave. We can't pretend that we're anything other than what we are."
"I'm not pretending anything."
He looked up then and found himself arrested by the angry sparkle in her green eyes. "Yes, you are. Otherwise why would a lady like you want anything to do with a man like me?"
- pp. 162 - 163
The answer isn't an easy one, and I'm glad Fraser didn't use Anna's wealth or connections to hurry things along for the couple -- it's a hard and long, but necessary process for our hero and heroine, and, in the end, a thoroughly satisfying one.
The Sergeant's Lady is Susanna Fraser's debut novel and is the second** book in The Arringtons and Wright-Gordons series. To find out more about Susanna Fraser and her books, click below:
**Confusing bit: This book was published in 2010, a year earlier than A Marriage of Inconvenience, but, the story in A Marriage of Inconvenience happens before Will and Anna's story. (Even on Goodreads, The Sergeant's Lady is listed as book 2 in the series.)