A View to a Kiss

What a Woman Needs

For Your Arms Only
by Caroline Linden
(Avon, $6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-006-170647-9
Sometimes it is the little things that determine whether one likes a book…sometimes it is the attention to detail that makes a book great or merely good. For Your Arms Only is one of those books. It could have been so much better but as it is, it is merely acceptable.

Cressida Turner, her sister Callie, her grandmother and their friend Tom Webb live in a small cottage on a nice piece of land thanks to a windfall from the girls’ father, Sergeant George Turner. Turner has returned from fighting Napoleon and is in the habit of leaving for a few weeks and then returning. Cressida has never really questioned where he has gone, but now realizes she knows little about what her father really does. And he has been gone this time for over a month with no word and no further money. She wrote to an old friend that she knows her father was going to see but has not heard back…until now.

Unfortunately, when she realizes who her visitor is, she has already pulled out a pistol and held him at gunpoint, thinking him a horse thief. This is not a good way to start when a man shows up to offer you his assistance. The man is none other than Alexander Hayes. Hayes was thought to be dead and a traitor. Dare she trust him?

Alec is also a spy who has been working for the Home Office the last five years. At Waterloo, he was critically injured and was luckily found alive by one of the looters. An old widow sewed him up and nursed him to health, only to discover that she may have saved a traitor. Alec discovered that papers incriminating him as a man who sold secrets to the French were found on him. He swore he would find out how this happened and the Home office agreed to help him if he worked for them. For five years now, he has done so, with his family and friends thinking him dead and with no idea that he is trying to clear his name. But now, his brother has died and he has inherited the family estate of Penford. The Office sends him home to claim his inheritance and to look for George Turner, who lived just a short distance away.

Details…so Alec returns home out of the blue and claims his estate. A cousin, although surprised, gladly turns it over to him. His sister is angry but mainly at his lying about being alive. His mother welcomes him with open arms. The town accepts him, except for one old Earl who is angry that his son, Will Lacey, a friend of Alec’s, didn’t survive the battle at Waterloo. And no one comes to arrest him, even though it is stated that it is a known fact in all circles that he has been disgraced and may be a traitor. 

The story follows Alec and Cressida as they attempt to discover George Turner’s whereabouts.  What they also discover are clues that will lead to the real traitor and the fact that as a soldier, Turner was not a father that a daughter would want to be proud of. Along the way, Callie finds love with Mr. Webb and Cressida finds herself in love with Alec. Their romance is filled with starts and stops, mainly with Alec worrying about his past and how he can ever offer anyone a future while he’s branded a traitor. But it is a good romance with lots of heat and good relationship-building scenes that are fun to read. The whole mystery hinges on a journal that the George Turner kept and Cressida is deciphering. While somewhat intriguing, reading about her figuring out a code was not very exciting.

The story moved well, although the author also went back and forth between the present day and the war, which really did slow down the pace at times. But the details… if Alec was considered a traitor, why were his lands just handed over to him? Wouldn’t the cousin have put up some fuss? When Cressida and Callie ran out of funds, they came to live at Penford. Wouldn’t this have raised eyebrows? Granted, Alec’s mother and sister were there, but wouldn’t there be questions about two unmarried and unrelated women coming to live with them? It just felt too convenient. 

For Your Arms Only was a good story, but not a great one. It was entertaining at times, especially if one did not look too closely at details or question some of the convenient circumstances that popped up more than once. The strength is the romance and the relationship between Cressida and Alec. For that I can suggest one seek out this tale. 

--Shirley Lyons

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