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Summary

A woman striving for justice....

Fianna Cameron has devoted her life to avenging the death of her father, hanged as a traitor during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Now, on the eve of her 30th birthday, only one last miscreant remains: Major Christopher Pennington, the English army officer who not only oversaw her father’s execution, but falsely maligned his honor.

Fianna risks everything to travel to London and confront the man who has haunted her every nightmare. Only after her pistol misfires does she realize her sickening mistake: The Pennington she wounded is far too young to be the man who killed her father.

A man who will protect his family at all costs....

Rumors of being shot by a spurned mistress might burnish the reputation of a rake, but for Kit Pennington, determined to add to his family’s honor by winning a seat in parliament, such salacious gossip is nothing but a nightmare.

To regain his good name, Kit will have to track down his mysterious attacker and force her to reveal the true motivation behind her unprovoked assault. Accepting the mistress of an acquaintance as an ally in his search is risky enough, but when Kit begins to develop feelings for the icy, ethereal Miss Cameron, more than his political career is in danger. For, Kit is beginning to suspect that Fianna Cameron knows far more about the shooting - and the reasons behind it - than she’s willing to reveal.

As their search begins to unearth long-held secrets, Kit and Fianna find themselves caught between duty to family and their beliefs in what’s right. How can you balance the competing demands of loyalty and justice, especially when you add love to the mix?

©2015 Jackie C. Horne (P)2020 Jackie C. Horne

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A study of love, family and fealty

I am not entirely sure why or how anyone could dislike this book, or the entire series to be frank.

I apologize in advance for my historical accuracy rant, but I think Bliss Bennet knows exactly what I needed and I had to write a little essay about WHY this book (and series) is amazeballs.

Right. Here we go.

One thing that drives me mad about the historical romance canon is that, so often, authors of the genre present readers/listeners with progressive 21st century women, or rebel-alpha males that defy social norms but then never show the consequences--like, the REAL consequences--of those choices. Rarely are the scenarios/consequences these progressive people confronted prior to the 20th century actually depicted. We frequently see aristocratic 'suffragists' in HR novels not inciting violent radicalism and being ostracized for it, even though we know they were. We see political reformists stay in their gilded cages, when we know they lived very avant-garde lifestyles. I honestly think authors do this because they don't care and are lazy. However, I earnestly believe that regardless of the fact that historical romance/ficiton is indeed... fiction... when you place a fictional story in the past you inherently become a custodian of our history and have a responsibility to it. People don't read academic historical texts nearly as much as they consume fiction and while I love Wallpaper, I hate it when I read reviews of a book where readers accuse a writer of inaccuracies based on the FICTION they read, rather then the actual historical record. This book was none of these things that irk me.Bliss Bennet, girl, you ain't lazy.

Bennet's debut had no compunctions with NOT adhering to genre expectations and comitted to exploring the progressivism and alternative lifestyles that existed in the past with a keen eye for accuracy and detail, while also cranking out a poignant love story. It is through the Pennington family that she explores this and in this first book in the series we get to see the realities of our young 'Kit' (the Hero) being a political reformist and actually living the life of a reformer—writing progressive texts, speeches at seedy/radical taverns, eschewing social conventions in general, and showing the ramifications of those choices. Our heroine (Fianna), is a 30 y.o embittered Irish rebel. Bennet’s choice to make Fianna a woman of discernment who places herself in political issues, taking the law upon herself, again, this was not unheard of (Katherine Stuart, Lady d’ Aubigny being an excellent example of this).

Objectively, you could consider this more in the realm of historical fiction with a heavy emphasis on romance (read/listen to the author’s note and you may agree). But rather than being an exploration of 19th century life or the "Irish Question", it struck as more a study of love and fealty in the period, as divided loyalty was the question underpinning and driving the actions of the main characters throughout.

What I found rather unique about Bennett’s writing was that she allowed those loyalties to take twists and turns, evolving with Fianna and Kit’s relationship—which I found a refreshing change to many choices often made in HF/HR novels where blind adherence to family and duty often leaves me feeling as if characters are not real people (which, yes, they are not but you take my meaning).

Bennett’s dedication to create real people on the page was, I think, best demonstrated by how she showed the inherent flaws of being noblem, righteous, and loyal—often conversely, in the case of our conflicted Fianna, but especially in the case of Kit who’s own beliefs and family loyalty frequently blind him.

I think this novel led me on a great journey, filled with intrigue, drama, politics, sex... all centering on two people who have very individual character arcs that culminate in a fulfilling way that felt earned.

One thing that brought me inordinate amounts of joy was that finally—yes, FINALLY—spinsterhood is not some beleaguered existence that is harped on throughout the narrative. Fianna just is and I really appreciated that. Not only is it occasionallyreflected upon but it is never discussed between Fi and Kit... Because It Doesn’t Matter. I kept listening (sorry, yeah Alex Wyndham is my crack), waiting for either of them to voice it. Fianna does initially reflect upon Kit’s youth, but it never came. Oh YES and that’s right, Kit is almost 6 years the heroine’s junior and it didn’t matter. Bliss Bennet deserves a medal, or a cake, or a vacation in Bali for that alone. It is so refreshing.

Finally, Alex Wyndham’s narration was sublime, but it always is. I really liked the vocal choices he made: Kit’s was wholesome and rich just like him. Fianna had this constant undertone of allure which was perfect. Even our brief meetings with Benedict (all surly and gruff) and Theo (haughty and nasal) were excellent. It made me wonder if he read the rest of the series prior to recording because they so impeccably embodied the characters—especially Benedict who is inherently quiet, taciturn and surly. I really, really hope Alex Wyndham narrates the entire series and doesn’t leave on the last book because Benedict’s story is a close second for me and so refreshing (19th century art world at the onset of artistic democratization, through the lens of a homosexual relationship and it is AMAZING). I want to hear each story read by Wyndham.

ANYWAYS, long review, but I really needed to add my voice of praise for Bennett’s writing. She is a bright star in the genre and I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer. Highly recommend and 100% worth the credit.

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Shane about the Irish accent

loved the story and generally like this narrator but for such a large Irish component i think another narrator with a better understanding of Irish accents should have been chosen, it did detract from the full enjoyment

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So so

A boringly written story saved by an exceptional narrator. Pity, but I will not buy the sequels

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-09-20

Thank you A. Wyndham for introducing me to Bliss.

I follow Alex Wyndham and his choices for narration always lead me to such entertaining stories, genre and authors.

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  • PennyLou
  • 19-02-21

Even Alex W couldn't save

This is my second book for Bliss Bennet and I'm not sure I'll try book 3. Alex Wyndham is my all time favorite narrator and that's why I tried this book and the first book in the series. The author's writing style just didn't appeal to me....neither did her characters. Sure wish I could say better things.