A story of love and war in Wellington’s army
In 1802 Europe is going back to war, General Arthur Wellesley is commanding troops in India and the officers and men of the 110th infantry are about to get the shock of their lives as a new officer arrives in barracks.
Paul van Daan is young, wealthy, arrogant and ready to take on the Maratha, the French and whole of the British army. A talented and charismatic leader of men, he needs to learn to curb his temper and adjust to the rigid army hierarchy in order to rise in his chosen profession. On the way he makes enduring friendships forged on the battlefields of India and Europe and builds an unexpected bond with the difficult, unemotional commander of the Peninsular army, Sir Arthur Wellesley.
There are many women in Paul’s life but only two who touch his heart.
Rowena Summers, a shy young governess straight from a charity school. Serene and gentle, her love and companionship give Paul a stability he had not known he lacked.
Anne Howard the extraordinary daughter of a wealthy manufacturer who marries a fellow officer and changes everything Paul thought he knew about women.
Amidst the violence and tragedy of the war against Napoleon an unforgettable love story unfolds which affects the lives of everybody it touches and changes the 110th forever.
This is the first book in the Peninsular War series which tells the story of the men and women of the 110th infantry, a regiment like no other in Wellington’s army.
I have always been fascinated by the long years of battles and skirmishes in the Iberian Peninsular at the beginning of the 19th century. Here men from all backgrounds were thrown together to fight alongside Spanish and Portuguese soldiers against Napoleon’s army. The extra interest was the presence of many women, officers’ wives enjoying social interaction and soldiers’ wives surviving in camp in horrendous conditions by doing laundry and cooking.
But this book is no boring account of warfare, for the tension, jealousy, romance and passion of the main characters make it a real page turner. There’s a sprinkling of Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe stories, the eroticism of an Outlander book and a totally original take on the role of women in this isolated community so distant from life at home in England. In addition, there are terrifying incidents of danger and violence which keep you on the edge of your seat.
Paul Van Daan is an irresistible, irritating hero, who doesn’t obey the conventions or stick to military rules, but he has survived two and a half years in Nelson’s navy and his strict but fair way of treating the men of the 110th Light company keeps their loyalty and determination. Though Paul finds it difficult to resist an attractive woman, he always treats them with respect and within this novel, he finds in his loyal wife, Rowena and in the forthright, stunning Anne, reason to live and to fight for justice. The situation the trio find themselves in, is absurd and cannot have a happy outcome and yet they remain steadfast to each other. It a very unusual plot but it works in a time when men lived by their wits and good and evil were more pronounced.
I loved this novel for its historical accuracy and its imaginative storyline. Highly recommended.
An Unconventional Officer can be purchased at Amazon UK