The Duke of Mercia (Christian) was captured by the French, and against protocol, he was not treated as a nobleman, but was tortured and starved for several months. The only thing that keeps him going is the thought of revenge on his captors. He is eventually freed, and makes his way home, a shadow of his former self. He is scarred physically and mentally, he suffers nightmares, and he barely eats enough to stay alive. Christian also finds out that in his absence, his wife and young son have died.
Gilly is cousin to Christian’s late wife. She is widowed, and has been looking after Christian’s surviving child, Lucy, who has stopped speaking, and desperately needs her father. Gilly nervously approaches Christian, and tells him how much Lucy needs him, and urges him to return to his country home to be with her. Having only been free a short time, and struggling, Christian agrees, but requests that Gilly accompany him and help him. As she is very fond of Lucy, and no longer has any other obligations, she consents.
Gilly is almost magical in the way she instinctively seems to know just how to treat Christian. With her encouragement, he begins to heal, both physically and mentally, though he still is holding on to his quest for revenge on those who tortured him. They are very drawn to each other, and soon develop a friendship and closeness that turns passionate. Christian is a to-die-for hero. His extraordinary strength carried him through what would have killed most men, and yet he retained his humanity, and is able to show love to his daughter and to Gilly. Despite her own scars from her unhappy marriage, Gilly is a giver. Fewer couples deserve a happy ever after more, but it’s not to be quite so easy.
It appears that there may be more to Christian’s captivity than just an act of war. It seems that someone wants Gilly out of the way, permanently. And, if that weren’t enough, if Christian can’t let go of his desire for revenge, it may cost him Gilly. These threads are all neatly tied up by the author in a satisfying and very intriguing conclusion. This first book of the Captive Hearts trilogy has all the trademark intimacy and emotion that is present in all of Grace Burrowes’ books, but I feel this is her best yet. I love this book to pieces! Bring on the Traitor!
As reviewed by Lady Blue for Romantic Historical Reviews.