The novella sequel to her Ring of Secrets, Roseanna M. White focuses on the unlucky-in-love British officer General Isaac Fairchild. For anyone who has read Baroness Emmuska Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (and subsequent novels), I highly recommend this novella, which sets up and commences the French Revolution. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel himself, Fairchild knows that trouble is brewing between the citizens and aristocrats of France, and he is on a mission to whisk a woman and her daughter safely to England before revolution breaks out.
While in Ring of Secrets we glimpsed Fairchild's gentlemanly demeanor and sense of honor, in this novella we see why Fairchild is general material - he is wise, strong, unafraid to fight for right, and able to learn from his mistakes. Though he is an officer and will defend those in his protection with his life, his sorrow over war is very clear. I found him a man worthy of great respect.
The historical aspects of the novella are intriguing - we glimpse the corrupted morals of the French aristocracy - after all, Julienne is trapped in a betrothal with a cruel and powerful man whose
own wife is not yet dead, and it is acceptable! - and the aristocrats' obstinate refusal to believe that anything could change their way of life, even a mere peasant rebellion.
My main complaint is that it is a novella and not a full length novel. Admittedly it is one of the best action-packed novellas I have read, and the romance fits the pace of the story, but I feel we miss out on more of the character development, particularly Julienne, since at least we are acquainted with Fairchild from Secrets. For that, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
The Culper Ring:
1. Ring of Secrets
1.5. Fairchild's Lady (novella)
2. Whispers from the Shadows
2.5. "A Hero's Promise" (short story)
3. Circle of Spies