Samuel Hartley is a brash and uncivilized American, raised in the wilderness, who has come to London seemingly on business but in reality to find a traitor who cost the lives of good men during the French and Indian Wars. He has moved next door to the snobbish, uber-polite, socially-inclined Lady Emeline for reasons that become more clear as the plot unfolds. As a busy businessman, he hires Emeline to chaperone his young sister through the vagaries of London society but he finds himself so attracted to Emeline that he cannot be content to leave Rebecca in her hands and just go about his investigations and business as he should. Instead he finds himself making excuses to stay close to the lovely widow.
For her part, Emeline is still grieving her brother's death and trying to raise her young son with the help of her Tante Cristelle. She has no desire to fall in love with the uncouth and unconcerned Samuel, especially as she's quite refined and such a stickler for propriety herself. And yet she finds herself so entranced by her neighbor that she can't help but tumble into a passionate affair with this infuriating man.
Hoyt has chosen to tie her story in with a legend concerning four soldiers, of whom Samuel Hartley represents the first. There are epigraphs at the head of each chapter tying the legend to the main plot. Not a literary convention I particularly like, this would perhaps have been a bit more successful for me had I enjoyed the legend itself. As it was, I found it to be a bit of an annoyance. Also, I had hoped that the villain would be exposed without the tired convention of a kidnapping invoked and yet I was disappointed in that hope. Surely there are other ways in which to put the damsel in distress so that her shining white knight can rescue his lady love. These petty complaints detracted from the story for me although I will likely read more of Hoyt's historical romances over time. Perhaps this one was just weaker than those I have heard praised so highly. And next time, I'll probably avoid this legend series as well.