An Officer's Vow*
An Officer and a Gentleman Vows to Protect Young Woman
Nate, now returning to England after being injured in the war against Napoleon, is thrown from his horse when it is startled by the presence of a young lady emerging from a hedge. Due to his injury, he needs assistance from the young woman to set himself to rights. As they talk, he finds her to be a level-headed young woman who is on her way to visit a friend who lives in a more distant area. Something doesn’t seem quite right to him, but he doesn’t press. He does offer his assistance.
From here the book takes a number of twists and turns as Nate and Lottie come to know and appreciate each other while he tries to protect her against the plots of an evil cousin. At times, it is quite humorous as they get themselves into situations that require subterfuge and prevarication. They quickly act quite well as a team and soon begin to esteem each other, though neither believes themselves worthy of the other.
Nate is an utterly swoon-worthy hero. In these types of romantic stories, I always have a soft spot for the wounded hero returning from war who questions his worthiness because of his injuries and his perceived feelings of not doing all he could for the cause and his brothers in arms. Nate is, in fact, on the road back to his father’s home, something he has avoided for some time because he feels like a failure and doesn’t want to see either his father’s pity or disappointment. His actions toward Lottie are always gentlemanly and kind; he looks out for her best interests, whether she wants him to or not.
Lottie has led a very sheltered life under her father’s protection, which is shattered after her father’s death. Her cousin inherits, and soon she learns he has a dastardly plot to get the money her father left to her. This is why she has left her house to seek shelter with a friend.
The book also had some wonderful secondary characters. In particular, I adored Nate’s father. He was so kind, generous, and loving, and just a little humorous; truly, Nate should have had no fear about returning home.
The plot in part has to do with spying and other matters of the realm.
Until about the halfway point, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters of Nate, Lottie, and Nate’s father were so well drawn that it was a delight to read their thoughts, actions, and reactions to wherever the plot was taking them. But then the author used several plot devices that are so common in these historical romances that I just about groaned, smacked my head, and stop reading. I won’t go into details, but they are standard devices in Regency novels. I hate when a plot seems to hinge on a happenstance that has a gazillion-in-one chance of actually taking place; then, this was flowed by another nearly de rigueur device when a plot has a villain with a plot against the heroine. The author had done so well in creating these fantastic, flawed, but noble characters that I wished she had taken that perhaps harder road and created a plot that wasn’t so cliched in the latter half. Even without those plot devices, the way that Lottie acted in the second half—both toward Nate and with the spying aspect of the plot—seemed incredibly out of character from what we knew of her earlier in the story and of her background. It’s hard to imagine a sheltered Regency girl acting as Lottie did.
For the first part of the book, I would highly recommend it. For the latter parts, not so much. Still, I did enjoy Nate’s and Lottie’s story; I just wish the author had kept the second half of the book more on track with what the first half of the book was like.