This is the second book in her Winds of Betrayal series. I have not read the first book and honestly don’t feel it is necessary to read the first book. It is very much a standalone book. Hines does reveal some information later in the book so if you don’t like spoilers then read the first book, Patriot Secrets, before this one.
Hines spins an intriguing tale with the American Revolution as the backdrop. Ruse of Love follows Jonathan Corbett in the South after spending several years in the North. Hines does an excellent job contrasting the sharp differences in the climate of the North and South of the American colonies. Those of us familiar with American history will remember the conditions at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778. One scene that stood out for me was in chapter one, “A burst of bitter wind gusted. Dr. Jonathan Corbett yanked his cloak across his chest to protect against brutal cold…The pines moaned in the darkness, but offered scant protection to the elements in this godforsaken winter camp.”
The historical research and the undertaking of it in her novel is exceptional. It’s been quite some time since I read a historical with so much detail and you can feel the frustration with the war effort. The American Revolution is often romanticized and we often forget how difficult it must have been for the American colonists and the men as well as the families living under such circumstances. Hines portrays these feelings and we can see Jonathan’s disillusionment with the war in chapter one, “Seemed a lifetime ago when he answered the call for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How eager he had answered that call.” Later she touches upon it again when Jonathan remembers the sacrifice his family made, “He, too, had once held the cry to the fervor of freedom.” The reader can’t quite work out if his personal feelings are due to the conditions of war or if there is something more to it. You can taste the bitterness he feels. Hines weaves a tale that makes us understand why Jonathan feels the way he does and leaves you wanting to delve into the history of the American Revolution to learn more.
Not only do we have Jonathan’s tale and what he’s experiencing, but we also have Rebekah Morse’s tale. Now here is where the book diverts into basically two separate books. On the one hand you have Jonathan’s life as a doctor during the war and on the other, you have Rebekah’s tale as a young woman. Unlike today, women didn’t have many choices for a career especially if you relied upon male relatives and their assistance. Rebekah’s tale is heartbreaking and brutal. We never really are told the full story as to why her uncle hates her until the every end and even then the big reveal as to why her uncle wanted to hide his background is a bit weak. I suppose in many ways I was expecting this grand confession of a secret to be life shattering and yet it wasn’t (well…it was for the time period, but I was expecting more). In addition to that Rebekah’s life is intertwined with that of Black Rory, a notorious raider. He saves her one night, but then held her captive for three months. I realize she’s a young girl, eighteen years old, and lived a sheltered life, but her relationship with Black Rory and what ensues afterwards was a bit unreal. Especially at how fast it happens. Despite that we are left with a character, Black Rory, we are suppose to dislike and yet one can’t help feel sorry for him and everything he lost. He made a choice to forgo his second chance for happiness and there lies the heartbreak. In the end we too have to wonder if Black Rory profession of love for Rebekah was indeed a ruse as Jonathan claims.
Ruse of Love is a beautifully written story with rich historical details. It’s also an emotional roller coaster. You’ll feel the frustration of war, makes you relive your first romance as well as the failure of one, but most importantly it makes you feel like you were there. Jonathan’s fear in the battlefield is gritty and your heart pounds as you read his emotions and what could very well be his final thoughts. You feel Rebekah’s anguish at not knowing who to trust and all the while cheering her on to be happy with Jonathan.
I debated over the rating between a four or a five. I gave it a four because at times it felt like I was reading two separate books. I understand the reason for this since it gives us a glimpse into the lives of Rebekah and Jonathan before they meet again and how different their lives were; I worried when we’d see them together and the time spent together wasn’t enough to satisfy my need that a bond of love had formed. A four for the detailed historical elements and because I really can’t wait to see how the series concludes.