The Traitor’s Wife by Kathleen Kent, was a historical romance that I quite enjoyed. The writing was lyrical, yet crisp, and the characters were compelling enough that it made me want to refresh my memory of the history surrounding Oliver Cromwell and his rise to power. The author has an uncanny ability to breathe life into the early American colonies with an incredible sense of realism. I was also surprised to find out at the end that this was a prequel to her earlier work, “The Heretic’s Daughter,” and that it is based on the author’s own ancestors.
We are introduced to Martha, a “spinster” who is forced to work for her cousins until she can be suitably married. Unfortunately, Martha is quite outspoken, and her prospects for marriage are very slim. While working for her pregnant cousin in helping to take care of the farm and her other children, Martha meets Thomas Carrier, a mysterious man who also works for the family. As she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding him, she only aeems to put herself in more danger.
A stolen look at a trunk in Thomas’ room brings more questions, but life is hard in the colonies, and Martha tries to put it behind her in favor of propriety. Everyday life gives her a glimpse of the man Thomas truly is as the family deals with wolf attacks and the death of family members and they come to rely on each other. But all of her questions about his past are brought back to the surface when she hears of rumors by townsfolk about the true identity of Thomas Carrier. Could he be the man who executed King Charles I and is now hiding in the colonies?
The subtle romance that is building is written in such a way that had me turning pages, not because of the action, but because I wanted to see how the romantic tension would play out. Would Thomas ever tell her his secret? Was he the man the assassins were looking for? Will Martha put Thomas and her family in danger with her outspoken ways?
As assassins sent by King Charles II to avenge his father’s murder draw closer and closer, the tension is ratcheted up, both emotionally and physically. I liked how the book was a slow build and it definitely had a satisfying ending. Martha and Thomas were captivating characters and it was easy to empathize with them and the positions they find themselves in. Because of the nature of the assassins, there is quite a bit of language, as well as several descriptions of violent death (like beheading), and some sexual scenes, but they were few and brief. It is more a story that makes us want to remember our history and the sacrifices for freedom that have been given in many countries as well as our own. I definitely want to read “The Heretic’s Daughter,” now, so I can find out what happens to the characters I came to know.
The Traitor’s Wife
Published by Little, Brown, and Company
420 pgs in paperback
You can purchase it on Amazon here