Emma Chegwidden is the much abused companion of Lady Lettice as they travel across Moricadia, a sovereign kingdom under France. At a ball, Emma makes the acquaintance of Marcus Durant, the heir to the dukedom of Nevitt who is living there under house arrest since Prince Sandre believes he knows the leaders of a rebellion. The entire population lives under the thumb of the de Guignards, who are ruthless in maintaining their power, however rumors have begun to surface that the ghost of the old prince is haunting the countryside and heralding the coming of a new regime. When Lady Lettice throws Emma out of her employ, Emma runs in to the wilderness and would have died if she had not been saved by the Reaper. She is taken in by Lady Francers, the cousin of Prince Sandre who still believes that Sandre is a good person and that his cruelty is nothing but a myth. She feels as though she owes the Reaper something and decides that she will do a little spying to help him out.
The Reaper begins to sneak in to Emma's rooms at night and, although he does not speak, Emma admires him for his dedication to freeing Moricadia and does not mind his quite intriguing physical attributes. She is led to believe that Michael is merely hiding out in Moricadia and neglecting his duties and she is furious when she discovers the truth about who the Reaper really is. She believes he has been using her and thinks that she can never trust him again. However, Michael already knows that Emma is something special- the kind of woman a man should marry because of her bravery and her integrity. Things in Moricadia are heating up and while Prince Sandre is going mad with the need to find the Reaper and put things to rest, Michael and Emma are doing everything they can to spur things on. It will take a horrible tragedy to bring things to a head and force Michael and Emma to pull out all the steps to bring down a corrupt government and bring their lives together.
I used to read everything Christina Dodd put out, but it's been four years since her last historical and I and I can tell that she has not lost her spark. She writes very well, with internal musings, great details, and it still manages to be fast and fun and not bogged down. I love her characters here, especially Emma. It's always fun to read about a companion who suddenly makes it in the big world. I loved that she was actually able to pretend that she was interested in Sandre- too many heroines just can't lie, but in this case it was necessary so she was able to do. And I liked that she was excited about her new circumstances but she also recognized that there was something more important out there and genuinely felt bad that she had such wealth while others did not. I wish that she had come clean that Michael was the Reaper from the beginning and we'd had more of the story from his point of view. We all knew that he was the ghost so it seemed odd that we were never presented with him thinking about what had gone down between him and Emma while he was the Reaper.
I tend not to be a fan of stories that take place in make believe countries, but in this case I really liked it. It was probably because it was in the back drop of a very necessary and exciting revolution and both of the protagonists were playing such an important role in it. I liked that she didn't try to sugar coat anything and there were definitely some hair raising events in this book. This part of the story really did take over though and I really wish that there had been more time for the actual romance and the development of their relationship. However, I can understand how such an intense experience can bring people together. The few steamy scenes were good, not great, but there were only a couple of them and I would have preferred more. The secondary characters were excellently written, from the spot-on little girl who is trying to help her family, to the rather stupid yet also cannily knowledgeable de Guignard widow, to Sandre's cousin who is trying desperately to believe that her cousin is still a good person.
Rating: I enjoyed the book and liked the characters, but I wish there had been more concentration on the romance. I will be reading the sequel to find out what happens in Moricadia.