In 1812, Erica Langston's father owns a thriving business and provides his family with a comfortable home. They show no outward signs of the struggles and fears faced by her Acadian forbearers. Everything is perfect in Erica's world. Her dad entrusts her with the business' financial matters, since her brother has no head for numbers, and she has discovered a new business venture her family will profit in. Then one terrible morning when the family is still eating breakfast, British soldiers march on the city of Washington to torch government buildings, the beginnings of the War of 1812. Someone sets fire to the Langston business and in the ensuing panic; her father is hit over the head by a British soldier and dies in Erica's arms.
British Major Gareth Powers will never forget the beautiful girl who confronted him in the streets of Washington after her father's tragic death at the hands of his men. He hadn't given any orders to attack civilians or non-government buildings, but in the panicking masses crowding the streets, he could hardly be held responsible. His men have orders to attack the American government and the civilians are hindering the British from carrying the orders out. Even after Gareth returns to England and takes a job as a printer, he still remembers the young American woman's grief.
After her father's death, Erica's family business struggles. She discovers the British still owe her father money and she needs it for the family to survive. She takes a trip to England, hoping to recoup her family's gold. A U.S. diplomat in the Court of St. James puts her in contact with Gareth and his friends. When the banker refuses to listen to her pleas for the money, Erica tells Gareth her troubles and he introduces her to the one man who might be able to help. Will he be able to? What will Erica have to do to get her family's gold? Who has placed a price on her head?
I read the Song of Acadia series which Mr. Bunn co-wrote with Janette Oke. When I received this book, I had no idea it would be a continuation of this series. The first book of a new series, Heirs of Acadia, THE SOLITARY ENVOY is a must read for those who read and loved the Song of Acadia series. THE SOLITARY ENVOY easily stands alone, so even those who haven't read the previous series will not feel left out.
Even though Erica is likeable, I found her a bit larger than life. In 1812, women didn't have the rights men did and I thought it a bit unrealistic that she could go into businesses and expect to be listened to. She took over in many areas and was everyone's answers to prayer, which is a bit far fetched. Gareth, on the other hand, is a loveable hero, even if he was a bit sickly after the war. I hoped Erica would be able to recover her family's gold and forgive Gareth for being there when her father was killed.
Readers will enjoy THE SOLITARY ENVOY and will want to watch for the sequel THE INNOCENT LIBERTINE due out in the fall. I couldn't put this book down, and highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical Christian women's fiction.
--- reviewed by Laura Hilton for Christian Bookshelf