Lilyan Cameron runs a wallpapering and artist shop in 1780 Charlestown, South Carolina. The future “Charleston” is under siege from the British during the Revolutionary War. Her parents dead, Lilyan lives with her Cherokee companion, Elizabeth, and is compelled to look after her brother. Her brother fights with the rebels and is arrested and held captive on a dismal prison ship in the harbor. Lilyan meets a handsome Greek officer named Nicholas who is serving with Francis Marion, the notorious Swamp Fox. With her new love, she contrives a way aboard the ship – using Christian charity as an excuse – and rescues her brother. Lilyan joins the resistance against the British and promises to spy to free her country from tyranny. In her first assignment, painting a mural for a British lady, she must save Elizabeth from disaster and they both end up fugitives in the wilds of South Carolina. Will Lilyan survive and be reunited with her true love?
I wanted to know more about Lilyan and her life before 1780 to better understand her character. I didn’t even learn her age until page 61. I didn’t know that Nicholas had a thick accent until pages after meeting him. Their romance is sweet but happens too quickly. Some situations aren’t believable, such as a prisoner being able to keep the ingredients for invisible ink on his person. Elizabeth is important to the story, but she isn’t a well-rounded character. Twice, her foolish actions jeopardize everything and bring tragedy that could have been avoided.
The story gets preachy in places, but there’s plenty of action and lush details of early Charleston and the wilds of the Carolinas.