Two childhood friends find each other again by the dawn’s early light.
Callista Brooke and Lord George Gordon Audley were once the best of friends; when they were 16, they even ran away together to save Callie from having to marry a man her abusive father had promised her to. They were soon discovered by their fathers and banished to separate corners of the British Empire. Fifteen years later, their lives collide again in Washington, D.C., at the heart of the War of 1812. Callie, now widowed, has made a life for herself as a dressmaker when her house is invaded by British soldiers. Gordon, now a spy, has been hired to rescue an English-born widow living in America—who turns out to be Callie, as he discovers when he arrives in the nick of time. After years apart, their first priority is getting Callie and her family safe, and quickly. After they find relative safety in Baltimore, the second priority becomes untangling their complicated feelings for each other; though their first adventure together was motivated by pure friendship, their second one may end in a love match. Putney’s commitment to historical research shines throughout the book, especially in nice touches like Callie’s lawyer being Francis Scott Key, author-to-be of the national anthem. Her attempt to accurately portray the racial tensions of the era is admirable, if simplistic at times. The second entry in Putney’s (Weddings of the Century, 2017, etc.)Rogues Redeemed series is unusually lengthy, but it means that Callie and Gordon’s happy ending, after surviving a war and a voyage home to England, is all the more satisfying. Putney’s continued foray into the new setting of the United States in the early 19th century is a welcome addition to the historical romance shelf.
Though suspense and adventure drive this story forward, the love at its center sets it apart.