With barely more than a day to read the book and write this review, it's a good thing it was relatively short.
This book is aptly named. It opens during the infamous ball given by the Duchess of Richmond the evening of June 15. Hostilities would begin the next day, culminating in the final battle at Waterloo on the 18th. Amelia Hartwell is the daughter of a British officer. She's minor gentry; she and her family have been following her father ("following the drum") for several years. She knows Dr. Will Kennaway, an army surgeon, as she's spent time with him over the last few years helping to care for the wounded. The two of them see each other at the ball and are talking just when it becomes apparent that the fighting is about to commence. During this time we learn that Amelia is ill-at-ease in fine society, and that she has strong feelings for the handsome doctor.
The second chapter begins three days later, after Napoleon's surrender. Soldiers are still being treated for their injuries. Will and Amelia have worked side-by-side, almost non-stop for those three days and they are exhausted. They pretty much fall into bed--to sleep--and are later caught by Amelia's mother who has come looking for her. Next thing we know, Amelia and Will are married.
Soon we learn that Will has been keeping a secret (which really isn't a secret to us because it's in the blurb). He's an earl. It's a title he never wanted, but inherited when his older brother died. With the war over, he is compelled to go back to London, take up his title, and enter society. This terrifies Amelia, who only wanted to work by her surgeon-husband's side. The bulk of the book is the story of both of them coming to terms with their marriage, their place in society, and the fact that their previous plans to continue hospital work have to change.
For the most part, I liked the book. It was very much like reading a traditional Regency. There's the overbearing, social-climbing mother; there's a powerful society matron; there's an uncomfortable society dinner; etc. Connolly does these things well. The part about why Will had kept his title a secret made sense, but the scenes with Will's younger brother seemed like a rushed resolution. Amelia and Will began their marriage under one set of expectations that had to change when Will agreed to go back to London as the Earl. With changed expectations, there's a lot of unhappiness on both sides that they need to work through. That's the part that interested me the most, but because the book is short, it wasn't dealt with as much as I would have liked. Still it was an enjoyable read and a fun way to mark this anniversary.
Tomorrow, lots of folks will be focused on Waterloo. But did you know that June 17 has been a busy day in history too?
- 1775 -- The Battle of Bunker Hill, the second battle of the American Revolutionary War.
- 1885 -- The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor.
- 1972 -- The Watergate break-in occurred and Nixon's staffers were arrested.
- 1994 -- L.A. police chase O.J. Simpson while the world watches.
And, oh yes-- it's my birthday :)
58 years and counting.