I don’t know how popular author Grace Burrowes is – I’ve heard her name a few times on book sites, but I don’t get the impression that she’s a well-known, go-to regency author, and – if The Soldier is anything to go by – that’s a damned shame. Because what struck me about this book, which deals with a lot of heavy things (most notably a soldier with very definite PTSD symptoms and both a heroine and a young girl who are trying to pick up the pieces of their own lives, post-tragedies), is that she deals with them oh, so very gently.
And maybe, if you’re the kind of reader who needs 100% accuracy in their historical romantic fiction, the idea of a former soldier, bastard son of a duke, openly weeping on his brother’s shoulder as he breaks down, is one that does not suit you, but for me, it was … if not real, at least refreshing. At the very least, having the former officer/current earl express emotions was a nice change of pace. Having him (gradually) realize that the heroine could help shoulder his burdens, rather than need protecting from them? The only way to build towards a happy ending, in this kind of circumstance, in my opinion.
It was kind of a treat to have a hero and a heroine who were sweet to each other, even when they were in the midst of the huge misunderstandings that this sort of book requires. Even when she was doing what she thought was best (but obviously wasn’t); even when he was ‘having a setback.’ There was no name calling, even in their point-of-view chapters were you could see what they each were thinking: Each was utterly generous to the other in their thoughts (while often being completely horrible to themselves, but that seems completely realistic to me).
My only problem was that this was obviously a series and I somehow hopped into the middle of it, and I hate showing up in the middle of a series, since the surrounding characters have already had personalities, plot-lines, and pitfalls, and it feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t know them. It’s my own fault, of course – the reason this was on my shelf in the first place was because I had previously read book 5 in the series and was waiting for copies of the other books to show up – but, if you’re like me and like to start at the beginning of a series, then you should start with The Heir, which is book 1 in the Windham Series, immediately preceding this title. (Which seems to consist of 8 novels and three novellas? Best I can tell, anyways. ) Or you can just re-read them when you, eventually, wind up with them all.