Childhood sweethearts meet again during the Napoleonic wars in Portugal working as spies for opposite sides, one for England the other for France. Bewitching beauty and fearless officer find passion in the shadow of war.
This novel captures the spirit of a bygone era. The protagonists, Jeanne and Robert, meet in Regency England, fall madly in love and are forced apart by the cruel hands of their respective fathers. Jeanne returns to her native France while Robert enlists in the army.
They meet 10 years later at a ball in Portugal. He recognizes her immediately, she doesn't him. This time fate is not the only thing keeping them apart. War does as well, a particularly brutal war on the Iberian peninsula. It pits them as spies on opposing factions. Passion flares but so does betrayal and heartbreak, and only through sheer perseverance and determination, does love triumph.
Balogh is a magically gifted storyteller. She writes dialogue that is purely brilliant and that Hollywood should take note of. You can actually visualize the characters acting out the scene.
Her settings are brutally realistic, with as much detail on flora and landscapes as to the cut of a man's uniform. The men are real men with real feelings, the women, true but never weak. Her characters are thoroughly fleshed out and multi-faceted. They seem human, which is rare in a Romance novel.
You will love this book, even if you don't like Romance novels. It is a classic, and one that every writer could take a lesson from.