Every once in a while I look for something different and I this time I’ve found Mary Jo Putney‘s Once a Soldier.
The regency style book cover doesn’t really indicate to the time this story is set in, but right as the book starts, the information is given to the reader. And it’s a new one for me.
A story set in the time of Napoleon surrendering is a first for me.It’s not classic regency and I quite enjoyed it.
Lord Will Masterson, having lost his wife and child years prior, joins the British army and is serving as general. It’s the end of the war, Bonaparte has abdicated and now he’s asked by a redeemed rogue (you’ll understand who/what/why when you read the book) to escort a group of soldiers back home to a tiny monarchy by the name of San Gabriel, mostly in order to survey the damages done by the French and report back with a checklist of how it can be helped.
Athena Markham, a beautiful and tall British amazon, is a big sister type consort to Sophie, the future queen of San Gabriel in the absence of her older brother and father from when they disappeared during the war. She’s been invaluable to Sophie and to the tiny monarchy in defending it from a French general by the name of Boudin a year ago, and helping Sophie get ready to ascend the throne.
Athena’s past plays greatly in the intricacies of the plot; her reasons for not living in England, why she feels such strong ties to San Gabriel, and why she’s, for all intents and purposes – a spinster in the making.
When he gets to San Gabriel, Athena is a trigger squeeze away from shooting Will, but soon they find a mutual attraction, and work together to put San Gabriel back together.
There is much work to be done to help San Gabriel back to its glory, and with the assistance of Will’s school friend, they manage to do what needs done. As well as get ready for another attack by Boudin, who’s gone rogue upon learning of the abdication and decided to claim Sophie and San Gabriel for himself.
The innocence often portrayed in regency novels is absolutely sweet here. Will and Athena are both rather sexual being, and they both know what they want. Status and social acceptance influence their relationship, but they soon overcome each and every small or large obstacle standing in their way of being together.
The sub plot of Sophie finding her own happiness makes the entire story all the more adorable. Ahh, young love…
Rounding up to 4 stars
As heir to a title and great wealth, Will Masterson should have stayed home and tended his responsibilities. Instead he went to war. Now, after perilous years fighting the French, he intends his current mission to be his last. But all his plans are forgotten when he arrives in the small mountain stronghold of San Gabriel and meets her.
Knowing herself to be too tall, strong, and unconventional to appeal to a man, Athena Markham has always gloried in her independence. But for the first time in her life, she finds a man who might be her match.
Two of a kind, too brave for their own good, Athena and Will vow to do whatever it takes to vanquish San Gabriel’s enemies. For neither will back down from death, and only together can they find happiness and a love deeper than any they’d dared imagine…
Mary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition for which there is no known cure. After earning degrees in English Literature and Industrial Design at Syracuse University, she did various forms of design work in California and England before inertia took over in Baltimore, Maryland, where she has lived very comfortably ever since.
While becoming a novelist was her ultimate fantasy, it never occurred to her that writing was an achievable goal until she acquired a computer for other purposes. When the realization hit that a computer was the ultimate writing tool, she charged merrily into her first book with an ignorance that illustrates the adage that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. More…