This is the second book in the series ‘Dreda’s Men’ and follows the exploits of the men in the Taylian State Security Bureau and their ladies. A post-Napoleonic war romance about ‘alpha’ militia men and their feisty, strong resourceful ladies.
Taylia is divided by civil war. Lady Helena von Vagna’s brother has gambled most of her family’s fortune away and it is rumoured he has helped the rebels. Her fiancé has deserted her and she toils to save her family farm. She has no desire to be intimate with any man, particularly the irritating, domineering, provoking Militia man Officer Peter Denman who saved her when she was being attacked by bandits.
Officer Denman is intrigued by this woman. He tries to help her when she is accused of murder and follows her to the sordid bowels of the city where she is vulnerable to the attentions of pimps and brothel keepers.
Lady Felea Whelani, the heroine in the first book, is now married to Francis Dreda, Commander of the Bureau. Their marriage is still tempestuous as Felea finds it difficult to conform to the expected behaviour of a dutiful nobleman’s wife. Her telepathic qualities are developing and her visions are now becoming clearer. The enemies of her husband are trying to undermine and destroy him. Can she and Helena prevent them destroying all she values and loves?
Can Denman manage to save Helena and claim her for himself? Will she want this ruthless militia officer?
Tension, adventure and romance – 4 and a half stars
The Militia Man’s Lady, a story of tension and adventure, recounts the romance between Lady Helena von Vagna and the militia man Peter Denman. It is the second book that I have read in the Dreda’s Men series, penned by author Alexie Bolton, the first being The Spymaster’s Redeemer (click on the title for my review).
I felt for Helena from the off as she has been badly treated by men – her brother has gambled away the family fortune and she has since been thrown over by her fiancé. Helena is left to help her mother manage the family estate and works tirelessly to make it pay its way. She not only has to tolerate her brother’s dissolute behaviour but has to put up with rumours that he was involved with rebels, putting her under suspicion.
Peter Denman encounters Helena first by chance and the by design as their lives become increasingly entwined. Denman performs many roles ~ her saviour, accuser and would be confidant and friend. Although attracted to Denman (and he to her) Helena is wary of men, especially those as controlling and domineering as he appears to be, as she values her independence. I loved that she did not fawn over him as did other women of his acquaintance.
As for Denman, he fears that Helena sees him only as a brotherly figure and in any case he tells himself and others that he is not ready for marriage. However, it is clear to all but the couple themselves that they are a perfect match for one another. As the plot progresses Helena manages to get herself into one scrape after another, due to a combination of her independent spirit and the designs of those who would do her harm. There are a number of well recounted dangerous and nail biting scenes where Denman is often on hand to save her.
However, Denman is not always in Helena’s life and I enjoyed the tension filled plot where the couple come together only to be torn apart by their own perceptions of what they as individuals want and what they perceive the other to feel. I was intrigued as to how they could secure their HEA after such an impasse, although at times I wanted to slap them both on account of their stubbornness! Nevertheless I enjoyed how the author resolved their differences. I also enjoyed meeting Francis and Felea, whose romance was featured in the first book in the series.
Readers who enjoy historical romances with strong heroes and characters and a plot full of adventure will enjoy this book.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
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