|Pub. Date:||June 7, 2016|
|Length:||11 hrs 6 min|
The Soldier is the second installment of the Windham series, and features my favorite son of the Duke of Windham - Devlin St. Just. The Windhams are a unique family having taken in and raised the Duke's two illegitimate children that he sired prior to his marriage. They are also an extremely affectionate family - often hugging one another and talking about feelings and even crying (I'm speaking of the males here). So that is unique in the historical romance genre for me.
Devlin St. Just is the oldest son of the Duke. His Irish mother asked the Duchess to take Devlin into the household when he was only 5 years old, and he never saw her again after that. This caused Devlin to have some abandonment issues growing up, and he strove to be the perfect everything. The perfect son as a child, and the perfect soldier as a man fighting the Napoleonic Wars. Now that the war is over, Devlin is having issues with PTSD. He has also been elevated to the status of the Earl of Rosecraft after killing the Earl of Hensley to save his sister-in-law. I loved Devlin - he was a bit of a broken hero, so it was great to see him overcoming the psychological aftermath of the war. I loved that he was able to learn more about the decisions his mother made, and clear the air with the Duchess.
Emmaline Farnum is Rosecraft's closest neighbor at his new estate in Yorkshire. Illegitimate herself, Emmie is only marginally tolerated in the small country society in Yorkshire. While her grandfather purchased her a small manor house, Emmie has a baking business to make the income for living and upkeep. She also attempts to keep an eye on her niece, Bronwyn, the illegitimate offspring of the late Earl of Hensley. Bronwyn ("Winnie") is a wild child having been allowed to run around on her own without supervision, education, or the guiding hand of a parent or guardian. Emmie was a self-sufficient heroine, but I wasn't crazy about her. She ran a little too hot and cold and tended toward gloomy sentiment. She has a big secret that the reader easily guesses - but it left me wondering what the big deal was.
The relationship between Emmie and Devlin was not insta-love... there was a lot of hot and cold, mainly on Emmie's part. Devlin treated both Emmie and Winnie very well, and that made me like him all the more. Most of my enjoyment of this installment came from Devlin as a tortured hero - but there were also couple things that threw me off. There are references to backstory that we have not been privy to. I believe that these stories were not released in order, and that makes it confusing. Particularly with regard to Rose (Devlin's other niece) and her family situation. Amery, Rose's stepfather, has played a sizable role in these two books but I don't know how he came to be in the story.
James Langton is a decent narrator. While he does not affect a believable female tenor - he at least makes their voices entertaining. My main complaint with the narration is that he made all the male characters (other than the hero) sound like doddering old men. It was a bit odd. But Langton did keep my attention drawn to the story, so I appreciated that.
I received this audiobook at no cost from Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review.