Theresa Weller has been a very proper young lady who has dedicated her life to always behaving with decorum. Until her cousin's brother-in-law, Colonel Bartholomew James, returns from India and disrupts her life. Bartholomew, Tolly, was horribly injured in India when his unit was attacked by the Thuggee's, and he has an infected knee that has never completely healed leading to immense pain and a limp. From their first meeting they each throw the other for the loop and Tolly begins to rethink his belief that his life is over and hopeless, while Theresa wonders if she has been too dedicated to propriety. She challenges him by admitting she wants to dance with him so he decides to undergo a risky procedure that could vastly help him or end with him losing his leg. Theresa is quickly coming to realize that Tolly is more than just any other suitor and he is definitely someone worth a little scandal.
Tolly wants Theresa, wants her more than he has ever wanted anything in his life, and it was her entrance into his life that reawakened his desire to survive. However, he is worried that she will come to regret taking a chance on him, especially when the East India Company comes out and says that the Thuggee's have been made up and are simply an excuse made up by cowards. Suddenly Tolly finds himself in need of allies and desperately trying to gain justice for the men under his command and prove they were heroes. He also feels no small amount of guilt for their deaths and he and Theresa are able to find common ground as she also feels responsible for her parents deaths. It takes immense courage but Theresa knows she needs to take a leap and believe in the man she loves to help him in his struggles. But it might be quite a leap as there are people who want to silence Tolly, and Theresa needs to give him one more reason to live.
Romance wise this book is one of the best I have ever read. I so loved reading about how much these two were willing to do, how much they were willing to risk and sacrifice in order to be with each other, or make the other happy. And it was made so much better because they were both doing so and welcomed and acknowledged how much they were each doing for each other. Her reaction to Tolly's knee surgery were perfect and just so beautiful and the story really took off from there. The book really does focus on their relationship and it progresses so well throughout the book. There was a brief time when I felt her guilt over her parents death was a tad overdone, but then it worked out so well with them mutually helping each other through their guilt. She really goes out on a limb for him in this story as it goes against everything she'd been working towards, but Tolly was definitely worth it.
Their was some steam in the novel, not a lot, but enough and I especially loved the kissing because it caused her to reflect on how the choices she had made in her life. She underwent some really moving changes throughout the book, and Tolly reciprocated by being so willing to change for her. I was also very intrigued by the East India/ Thuggee murder plot partly because it was so interesting and I really got into having the bad guys go down and the good guys get their little revenge. Also- I loved it because it made Tolly who he was and really lead him straight to Theresa and some great moments between them. The secondary characters were spot on, being a little concerned about her suddenly being so scandalous over such an inappropriate man, but also happy that he's helping her get over her guilt. Finally I really enjoyed the fast paced writing and the word choice that really brought the book up.
Rating: Tolly and Theresa are one of my favorite couples of all time and what they did in the book for each other, along with the interesting little conspiracy, made this book great.