the author examined and developed the theme of Judaism in early 19th century Britain and she did her homework. This is a subject I doubt has been much used in historical romantic fiction set in the Regency and the author did a super job of explaining the difficulties and problems Jews had at that time. In fact, the most romantic and sympathetic character in the story is the heroine's brother, James Nathanson.
The book's story of intrigue and adventure in Wellington's Quatermaster General's department is done well and the author has done her research. My main problem is that Capt Richard Drayton just does not stand out in the setting in which the author places him.
I accidentally found out about this author due to a blog recommendation from another author I admire and it was love at first sight. I was absolutely fascinated by the heroine, her unconventional upbringing, and her father and brother who are both spies. Rachel can nurse the wounded, shoot a pistol, ride astride and throw a pretty good punch yet still seems like an authentic lady of her time period.
I thought Richard was a great hero but the book shows the moral ambiguities, double dealing and gray areas of the espionage business. There is no cartoon style perfect solution to the conflicts that arise, but the hero at all times is doing what he considers to be the most honorable thing, and he sometimes second guesses himself because he knows he is only human and imperfect. I also thought the story was intensely romantic in the most lovely and old fashioned way, but true to the period. Meaning of course that it was highly unlikely for characters of that time period to jump into bed with each other before marriage. If you enjoy other historical authors like Tracy Grant or C.S. Harris or Joanna Bourne that combine spy or mystery plots with some romance, or traditional Regency romances like Georgette Heyer or Carla Kelly's then you should love this book. I'm rating it 4.5 only because the 3rd book in the series, "The Spy's Bride", is even better.
I found the writing style to be very enjoyable and I loved the action and adventure in the parts of the book that involved the war and espionage. Rachel and Richard's family members were all well written with nuanced and interesting personalities. There is no doubt I'll be reading everything else Nita Abrams wrote.
A note about the Jewish aspect of the story: Rachel's family defines themselves as Jewish more via culture, social status and ethnicity than by their religious observance, at least the younger generation. And of course Rachel's brother and father often have to masquerade as Gentiles to do their intelligence gathering work. This seems logical and historically realistic to me; then as now there are many secular Jews who none the less self-identify as Jewish. And the book did not gloss over the problems this couple will face in a religious intermarriage during that time period.
One of a pretty good trilogy. This is marketed as historical romance, but has a larger percentage of historical than usual. Some of the characters are Jewish, and there is some historical information on the role of wealthy Jews in Napoleanic times. The other two titles are THE EXILES and THE SPY'S BRIDE.