A Redoubtable Citadel: a novel of Wellington’s army from Ciudad Rodrigo to Badajoz (The Peninsular War Saga Book 4)
Colonel Paul van Daan of the 110th Infantry is a favorite of Lord Wellington. He is also unconventional, which makes him well loved by his men, but a black sheep among some fellow officers. Equally exceptional is his wife, Anne, who has recently given birth to their son. She travels with his brigade and works alongside the surgeons to tend the wounded, much to the doctors’ chagrin. After storming the French-held Spanish border town of Cuidad Rodrigo in 1812 and mourning a friend’s death, they travel to Lisbon to see Paul’s family who has come to take their son to England.
Summoned back to camp, Paul leaves Anne to wait for a supply convoy to return her to the British lines. An enemy patrol, hunting for Spanish guerillas, captures the wagons. Being an officer’s wife, she should be safe, but the French commander blames Paul for his dishonor and Anne provides the perfect means for seeking his revenge.
This being the fourth book in The Peninsular War Saga and not having read previous titles, I wondered whether I would follow the storyline. Bryant does a fabulous job orienting new readers while engaging returning ones, weaving tidbits of backstory into the tale at just the right moments. Her vividly drawn characters capture our attention from the first time we meet and the history is seamlessly interwoven. Bryant deftly portrays the brutality of war, the violence of rape, and its shattering impact on not only the victim but also those around her. In spite of the tale’s dark side, hope remains a subtle constant throughout. Bryant ably shows differing societal reactions to provide us with a well-rounded glimpse of the world in which her characters reside. This is historical fiction at its best.