December 16, 2015
Ms. Milan will just have to wait!
While waiting for Courtney Milan's book to hit the stands, I opened another Grace Burrowes book, The Traitor. I was so enthralled by this story that when Ms. Milan's book came out, I didn’t stop what I was reading but continued to read The Traitor.
What a fascinating book, with one of the most interesting heroes I've read in a long time. The Traitor is Sebastian St. Clair, aka Girard. If you've read The Captive you will remember Girard as someone who tortured the prisoners who were captured by the French during the Napoleonic War. When I put The Captive down, I wondered just how Ms. Burrowes was going to change Girard into hero material. And that my kiddoes is what makes The Traitor so engrossing. Does Ms. Burrowes succeed? Mostly. There still were some moments in the book where the Girard/Sebastian metamorphosis didn't quite reach acceptable levels. His reformation was painted pretty realistically. While he could never be a pure Sir Galahad, he could be someone who fought in a war and did things in that war that were not honorable but in the end, his actions saved lives. Besides that the heroine, Millie, supported him so much that we, the readers, could do nothing but forgive him. Warning: a glowing book luv fest is about to begin.
Is this the best romance novel I've ever read? No. Are there problems in this book? Of course. Did I find this a fascinating read? Yes. And, that was because this is one of the best tries at rehabilitation of a hero character that I think I've ever read. When I read about Girard/Sebastian in The Captive, I thought that Ms. Burrowes might make Girard/Sebastian into a more palatable character by making him a double spy or something - but she doesn't. She doesn't sanitize his character or give him an unbelievable reason for doing what he did during war. What we get in this book is a man who is trying to move on from his past mistakes but the other people in the world are not as forgiving. A wonderful study in what makes people tick.
Then we have Millie. Millie is a true companion to Girard/Sebastian. She is supportive of him and eventually very protective of him as she stands up to his tormentors. The love story in this book is well written. These two talk to each other, they support each other, and they become friends and eventually lovers. They also marry about half-way through and without too much of the “I'm-not-good-enough” fare that we are usually handed in romance books. There was also an almost hanky moment in this story which involved an animal - a cat, Peter. First of all Girard/Sebastian’s reaction to the cat was priceless, but the tear-in-my-eye moment came when Millie is reunited with Peter. You see, Peter is the only thing left of Millie's old loving aunt. He purrs. He purrs loudly. Peter has brought comfort to Millie in her time of need. When they are reunited, Millie stands in a room with her nose on Peter's head crying and looking at Girard/Sebastian with great weepy eyes. How can a hero resist putting the cat in the carriage and bringing him home?
If there was anything that didn't work too well for me it was the scene with Wellington and his men at dinner where all the antagonists face Girard/Sebastian. It was a bit of a stretch. Overall, while I may not have been completely won over by Girard/Sebastian, I thought this was a great read. It traveled down a path that few romance books go down – trying to heal wounds that cannot be healed. I knew at the end of this book that Girard/Sebastian and Millie would have a HEA and that when I closed the book the relationship would last. I still had misgivings that the society they lived in would not be accepting of them when I closed the book, but with their strong relationship and a cat that purred loudly, they had a chance.
Time/Place: Regency England