The life of a young country miss becomes infinitely more complicated after she meets a handsome peddler who is actually more than his appearances would indicate.

Miss Bethany Whitcombe has one over-riding concern: how to prevent her impetuous young brother from charging off to the Peninsula to fight Bonaparte. But living on the coast of England in the likeliest place for a French invasion makes matters even worse. Between the French, nefarious smugglers and possibly real spies, trying to figure out the right thing to do is quite a challenge.

When the mysterious Eric Pennington is injured while saving her life from his runaway wagon, Bethany is appalled to discover herself falling in love with such an obviously unsuitable man. But a marriage of convenience with him seems far better than a forced wedding with her abominable neighbor. Meanwhile, the plot twists pile up as Bethany fights to keep her new husband safe even as she defends her country.

Although logic and credibility are in short supply, Ms. Ferguson creates an appealing pair of lovers for our reading enjoyment. (On-sale Feb., 255 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer