It’s 1781 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Lieutenant Michael Stoddard has just kicked down the door of a traitorous land agent named Horatio Bowater, when his commanding officer abruptly pulls him away. Michael is furious, especially since his role as chief investigating officer will now go to his young assistant, but Major Craig is adamant that he needs Stoddard for something else. Unfortunately, Michael’s new mission is that of a lowly courier: Craig wants him to deliver a message to a man working for Lord Cornwallis in Hillsborough, far away from the bustling seaport of Wilmington. So Stoddard reluctantly disguises himself for the dangerous journey across a colony in the throes of a revolution. But this mission will be far less simple, and far more perilous, than he thought.
When Michael arrives in Orange County, he finds the man he’s supposed to meet, a Mr. Griggs, has been murdered. More than that, the county sheriff is a corrupt and devious man, and he’s bent on finding out who Michael is and why he has come to Hillsborough. Michael takes refuge with a local woman and her daughter, posing as a nephew, but he doesn’t have much time to find out what happened to Griggs before the sheriff discovers his true identity. Unfortunately, an old nemesis picks this as the perfect time to come to town: the sadistic Duncan Fairfax of His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons. The last time they met, Stoddard barely escaped with his life…and Fairfax remembers him all too well. Will Michael solve Griggs’s murder and avoid his own?
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At age seventeen in 1768, lowborn Helen Grey was sold in marriage to an old, corpulent merchant bound for the Americas. Her saving grace was her disgusting husband’s educated assistant, Jonathan Quill, who had to play Pygmalion to her Galatea in order to make Helen presentable for the aristocracy in the colonies. Now, twelve years later and nine years widowed, Helen is fighting to survive in wartime Wilmington, North Carolina. After her husband’s demise in a duel, his monetary estate mysteriously vanished, leaving Helen near penniless. She now ekes out a meager existence taking in embroidery work for wealthy ladies and writing a small society column in a Loyalist magazine.
Then Helen’s editor comes to her with a proposition: if she poses as the sister of a British officer in His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons, Helen could get close to Britain’s hero of the hour, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, and write a hard-to-acquire feature. Colonel Tarleton doesn’t approve of journalists, so Helen’s mission would be completely covert. But there is more beneath the surface of this apparently simple mission than meets the eye, and soon Helen is up to her neck in danger, intrigue, colonial spy rings, and the attentions of three separate men, one of whom is supposed to be posing as her brother. Traveling through a wild back country overrun with rebels, it’s possible that Helen’s greatest danger lies in the men supposedly protecting her best interests. Set in both North and South Carolina and concluding with the tactically decisive Battle of Cowpens, this romantic historical thriller combines an exciting time in the history of the United States with lots of imagination.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.