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The Soldier’s Dark Secret

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Soldier’s Dark Secret (2015) Marguerite Kaye (Comrades in Arms)

The Soldier's Dark SecretSet in England in 1815.

I’d picked this book up on a whim in2015, and was surprised by how much I liked it.

Jack was a soldier for 13 years, and was Wellington’s code-breaker during the war with Napoleon. He resigned his commission after being injured at Waterloo, and once he returned to England, he became haunted by the war.

Despite their estrangement, Celeste was still horrified when she received a letter from her mother with the news of her death. So she has taken a commission in England, in the hopes she can discover more about her mother’s past.

First, although a romance, this story is first about how Jack is haunted by the war.

While he still wore his colours, he had managed to reconcile himself to that. Now, he no longer could. Now, he was being forced to question everything that he’d loved and all that he’d stood for. There were times when he felt as if he were being quite literally torn in two. Times when he raged at the injustice of what was happening to him, times when he was overwhelmed by guilt.

Yes, he is struggling with what we would not call PTSD. Yes, this is a romance. But Jack was not healed of his PTSD by Celeste’s love.

Celeste talked with him about what happened in the war, and he did tell her things he hadn’t told anyone else, but he also saw it as his work to do, to become a functioning human again.

Does it happen too quickly? Yeah. But I think the story makes clear he still has nightmares, and he is a vastly different man from the one who went to war. But his life is not over. The tone of the story, to me, was that he needed to talk about his past, to exorcise some of his demons. That it was work, but he could begin to heal.

I also appreciated that we were allowed a glimpse of Jack’s mind, that allowed him to become such a good code-breaker.

There was a German mathematician called Gauss who had published several fascinating papers, which Jack was methodically working his way through. Complex stuff, and much of it in Latin, which kept him occupied through the long hours of darkness.

Would I have liked more of that geekery? Of course. But this is a Harlequin, so that was never on the table. But his renewed interest was presented as part of his healing process–his beginning to take interest in the world around him.

Publisher: Harlequin Historical

Rating: 8/10




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