In colonial Maryland, Jack McCready travels the countryside as an untrustworthy peddler. His stolen route brings him to the Weingardt farm, where Mara Weingardt struggles to raise her two sons and follow the Moravian religion of her deceased husband. Jack ingratiates himself with the boys while becoming a messenger for the colonials who are angry at being taxed by England. Jack has no allegiance – money is his only love – so he spies and carries tales for the royalists as well. Needing one of Mara’s sons to work for him, Jack ends up rescuing the Weingardts on the day Mara spurns her betrothal to a wealthy landowner. With promises of a future, Jack takes them to Annapolis, a city rumbling with discontent. Instead of a position with a wealthy townsman, Mara finds herself an indentured servant. As Jack grows attached to Mara, she pushes him away for a chance with her refined employer. Her sons are drawn to the town’s rebels when a ship carrying taxed tea is burned in the harbor. Jack tries to protect them as dangerous events force him to take sides and rescue Mara from a terrible fate.
Laced with humor and unusual characters that crackle off the pages, Dolan’s novel will enchant you. There are a few inconsistencies and many editorial mistakes, but I found this book hard to put down.