RETRO REVIEW: A Traitorous Heart by Tammy Jo Burns

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She thought she had lost everyone during an early attack by Napoleon’s forces. Then upon returning to England she loses even more…

He lost his new wife in a brutal attack six months ago during one of the first battle surges by Le Grande Armée. Left with an injury to remind him of that time he reluctantly takes up his mantle as a Peer of the Realm and uses his skills with numbers and letters to help the War Office as a code specialist.

Nothing could surprise him more than walking into a government safe house to question a suspected traitor and find his supposedly dead wife lying injured with no memory of their time together. Is she a traitor? Where has she been all this time? And is their love strong enough to survive or will the truth tear them apart forever?

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Publisher and Release Date: Tammy Jo Burns, November 2013

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Vikki

This story starts out in the middle of a battle with Tessa running for her life, trying to evade the explosions all around her. Her father slams her to the ground and they roll into a ditch. As she lies beneath him, he speaks his final words telling her that he loves her and breathes his last breath, trapping Tessa under him. She obeys his warning as the battle continues to rage around her. Slowly, the noise around her disappears and silence surrounds her. When she tries to push her dead father’s body off her, she lets loose a blood curdling scream.

The book then fast-forwards into another action-packed scene ten months later, ending with Tessa falling and hitting her head, then passing out from the blow. She awakens to find herself locked in what could only be a cell with the voice of her beloved telling her to open her eyes. Since she witnessed his death from one of the explosions, she thinks she is in heaven, yet feels like she’s in hell as pain slams through her and blessed oblivion carries her away.

Derek, the newly-minted Earl of Blackburn, cannot believe his eyes. This is the woman his friend, the Duke of Hawkscliffe, believes is a traitor – and she is none other than the wife he presumed had died in the battle that left him with a severely damaged leg. When he declares her to be no traitor and explains that she is his wife, the duke presents Derek with overwhelming evidence pointing to Tessa as the spy. When she again awakens, her memory is gone, and she is only able to recall her name. Now Derek is faced with a dilemma – does he believe the evidence, or deny it? When Tessa’s memory returns, will it tear them apart, or prove her innocent of all charges. Will their love be enough to overcome their circumstances?

I enjoyed this story for the most part, and I’m glad I had the chance to read it. The plot is intriguing, the characters engaging and Tammy Jo Burns does a great job of setting up her scenes – her ability to describe the action drops the reader right into the middle of it. The love scenes are not at all graphic, but are filled with deep emotion and plenty of passion. She also does an excellent job of giving the book a strong sense of the historical period. It’s clear she did her research. The couple is uncomfortable with Derek’s title and the author clearly explains why.

But there are problems with the pacing in this book. The momentum in the beginning had me enthralled and wanting to read more, but that momentum did not continue. The story is very interesting, but it becomes a bit bogged down with an unexplained issue. I was also confused as to how Derek came into his title, as it’s never fully explained. It seems to have come to him from his great-uncle, but somehow bypassed his father. There’s one quick sentence referring to it as having been bestowed on him by the king, but no further details – and even that small piece of information came well into the story, causing me to spend most of it wondering me to wonder how he got it and not his father. This question rather took me out of the story.

Another problem involves point-of-view changes. At times, I would have to read a sentence a second time because the author had switched from one character’s POV to another with no break in the scene, which I found quite disconcerting. Ms. Burns also writes from a number of different points-of-view, and that kept me from feeling a deep connection to the main characters.

Overall, A Traitorous Heart is an enjoyable read, but not a fantastic one. If you’re looking for a book with an intricate plot and emotional love scenes, then I’d give it a qualified recommendation.

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