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Disclaimer–I am a Carina Press author. I promise that this review is as unbiased as possible.
I enjoy Regency Romances, even though I don’t read a lot of them. What I really enjoy is period literature from all throughout the eighteen hundreds, including Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, Charles Dickens and George Eliot. So even though they are all Brits, you can see that I’m pretty eclectic. I haven’t read a Regency Romance in many years, but this is quite different from what I recall. Those novels never took place in an army encampment.
Anna Arrington is an officer’s wife and the niece of an Earl. Her marriage is a troubled one, as her ignorant husband makes an incorrect assumption about her on their wedding night, and he will neither be dissuaded from his misconception nor will he forgive her. Adding to their troubles is the fact that she cannot seem to conceive. And of course, he blames her. In an vain effort to help their marriage, she goes with him when he goes off to battle with Wellington’s army in Spain.
The novel starts when Anna defies her husband to help a camp follower named Juana give birth to a child. Juana’s lover happens to be best friends with Will Atkins, a popular sergeant with the Rifles. Anna and Will find themselves working together to save the child, earning both of them Juana’s everlasting gratitude and establishing an unlikely friendship between the officer’s wife and the commonborn sergeant.
I liked both Will and Anna. Ms. Fraser did a masterful job especially when portraying a scene from Will’s point-of-view. We easily feel like we are behind his eyes. She even uses a crude term that would immediately make this an R rated blog if I mentioned it. However, I cannot imagine an innkeeper’s son referring to his … maleness as anything other than his c**k. So it worked perfectly. There were sex scenes, but I wouldn’t classify them as very hot. I did have a disturbing gustatorial (new word! Refers to taste–similar to visual) of bad teeth during the kissing scenes, but that was not the author’s fault. I simply get squeamish at the idea of kissing anyone in any time period that does not include modern dentistry.
If I had any critique, it’s that some of Anna’s problems were rather quickly solved. Which meant, in order to keep the plot moving, we needed no fewer than three villains. You can forget about the Regency trope where one bad-ass stalker of a villain pesters the lady until a climatic battle between the hero and the villain at the end. I do like that the plot was fresh, but I kept wondering when a certain unkilled villain was going to turn back up. Eventually, I realized that we had, indeed, seen the last of him. It’s good that as a reader, I was kept guessing, but that particular plotline wasn’t entirely satisfying. If any villain deserved to be killed, it was him.
Once the villains were out of the way, the reader was left wondering how the heck Anna and Will were going to get back together. I loved the long delays between letters–you sure had to have a lot of patience back then! The ending was very satisfying.
Also, my kudos to the cover artist. The artwork here is just dreamy.
The Sergeant’s Lady was an adventurous glimpse of a Regency period that does not include cotillion balls and tours in the country. Instead of trimming hats, Anna learns how shoot what must have been a black powder pistol. Instead of sleeping in feather beds, they must sleep in caves while on the run. And although Will rescues her plenty of time, in the end, Anna must rescue herself. I really enjoyed it, and I’ll look forward to Ms. Fraser’s next novel.