The Counterfeit Guest
This, the second in the Mary Finch series (the first reviewed in HNR 44) sees our redoubtable heroine immersed in yet another, somewhat unlikely Adventure (with a capital A) set in the last years of the 18th century.
Mary is now the owner and mistress of White Ladies, a substantial property on the Suffolk coast. When she has suspicions about the activities of Colonel Crosby-Nash, the new husband of her good friend Susannah, Mary is recruited by the shadowy intelligence agencies of Britain to stay at their house in Kent and spy on Crosby-Nash. Meanwhile, Captain Holland, Mary’s love interest from the previous novel, maintains his somewhat ambiguous passions for Mary (reciprocated, but not acknowledged) and is likewise involved in nefarious activities in preventing mutiny and sabotage against the British Army, fomented by France and involving the arch-cad Crosby-Nash. This all comes together in a thrilling but rather far-fetched conclusion, in which Mary plays the role of brave heroine, with a huge hand from Holland.
This is good historical fiction with a racy and enjoyable plot, based upon a core of actual events, though I do not feel that the book has quite the same panache and appeal as the volume.