First in the Captive Hearts Series, this Regency romance is set at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, captured by the French and tortured during his incarceration, returns to a family destroyed: both his wife and only son and heir are dead. His deceased wife’s cousin, Gillian, recently widowed from an abusive marriage and disinherited, coaxes Christian back to life on behalf of his young daughter. The relationship between Christian and Gilly flourishes with their close proximity on his estate, but they cannot marry until Gilly accepts (her excuses become a little tiresome) and Christian has settled a debt he considers owed.
Off to a good start, the book flags in the middle where nothing happens to speak of. Plot development is weak, and I was impatient for someone to take action. As a result, the loose-end-tying at the conclusion feels rushed and features overly convenient and somewhat contrived circumstances. However, familiar themes of love, sincerity, friendship, familial loyalty, and dastardly betrayals are generally well managed; the characters engage with an abundance of clever dialogue, often witty, something Burrowes clearly excels at. Despite certain implausible situations, given the era, this is a satisfactory read, and lovers of Regency drama will enjoy it and look forward to the next in series.