Every now and then I need a book that is a total break from life around me. A trip back to the late 17th century England, during the short reign of King James, suited me fine.
Jamie Sinclair works for the King, as he did King Charles II before him. While he serves as a mercenary, he also collects information from a variety of sources (read spies) which he then shares/disseminates as he sees fit. When in Scotland overseeing some of James troops, he witnesses the not unusual rough treatment of a prisoner. Realizing that the it's a woman, he knows her fate will be unkind, and he steps in to protect her. For some un-explicable reason, he determines that the best way to protect her is to marry her on the spot. He doesn't even know who she is, though he suspects she is a camp follower, yet he tells the troops that she is a heiress who could be ransomed back to her wealthy family.
Catherine Drummond was out to save her mis-guided younger brother. Unwittingly she is separated from her clan during a skirmish. She knows what her fate will be as a female prisoner of war, but she is not prepared nor accepting that this huge English man actually wants to help her.
That's about all I can tell you without giving away too much. Tempting isn't it.
Interesting time in British history. Catholics versus Protestants. Not only did this divide communities, but it also families. Charles II being Protestant and his successor and brother James being Catholic. To swear fealty to one king and then months or years later, swearing to uphold the next, often meant a change in religion. Jamie had to find a way to deal with this if he wanted to continue to support himself.
I was most interested in the discussion of the coffee houses that proliferated across the London. I had heard of them, but not an explanation of how they fit in with society. They were widely referred to as 'Penny Universities', a penny being the cost of admission. Once inside, social class was irrelevant when it came to discussion. All present were welcome to join in whether he be a titled man or a street vendor. Fascinating.
I thoroughly enjoyed this diverting story. It introduced me to a period in history that I know very little about. I really must learn more about these social class crossing coffee houses.
Other books by Judith James:
Cover image courtesy Sourcebooks