Review: The Soldier by Grace Burrowes

Tuesday, June 21

Title: The Soldier*
Author: Grace Burrowes
Series:connected to The Heir
Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher:  Sourcebooks/Casablanca
Format: mass market paperback & digital ebook
Date/Year:  June 2011
Reviewed by:  Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

Even in the quiet countryside he can find no peace...

His idyllic estate is falling down from neglect and nightmares of war give him no rest. Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor...

Until his beautiful neighbor ignites his imagination...

With her confident manner hiding a devastating secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes Deviln’s most urgent mission.

My Musings:

After reading Grace Burrowes second book, I think I am getting a better understanding for the way this author writes.  I absolutely loved her first book, The Heir, which was very highly praised by many who know more about Romance than I do.  But it took me a while to get there.  It wasn’t love at the first chapter like sometimes can happen.  The Soldier began the same way for me.  The best way that I can describe my feelings about how both books are written is that they are like a person who doesn’t always give the best first impression, but once you get to know them they begin to improve upon acquaintance and they have the potential to become your best friend.  It’s not that they are poorly written it just seems to take me a bit before I feel invested in the characters and to care about what is happening to them and their story.  Ms. Burrowes writes stories that become more engaging with each page until you reach the more than satisfying romantic conclusion.

Devlin St. Just, the hero from The Soldier, is a hero in every sense of the word.  You know I am all about the hero in a romance novel, and generally, for me to really like a hero he has to be ALL alpha.  This is not the case with the hero in The Soldier.  He is a natural beta that is alpha only when he has to be.  So for me to say that I really loved him as a hero and everything about his character means that in my opinion he was written so well that I overcame my natural aversion to beta heroes.  That is not an easy thing to do!

He is the first born son of a Duke, but due to his illegitimate birth he cannot inherit the title.  As a young boy his mother decides that the Duke and his Duchess can provide much more for him than she can, so she gives him up to their care.  She truly believes she is giving him advantages that she cannot, but she doesn’t realize that her altruistic actions leaves her son with a life long feeling of being abandoned, and an outsider in his adoptive family.

Despite his beginning he grows up into a fine young man who is a care giver to everyone that he loves.  And when his younger brother joins the military, he purchases a commission so that he can watch over and take care of him.  He is not a natural warrior, and abhors the horrors of war, yet to live he must become a fearless and strategic soldier to ensure his survival.  He is a natural beta hero, who becomes an alpha hero only when it becomes necessarily, but it is not a role that he enjoys.  He is emotional, caring and softhearted, yet at the same time he is strong and protective of those he loves and sees that are weaker or in need.  He returns from the war haunted by his brother’s death and everything that he witnessed and was forced to do to endure this period in his life.

The heroine, Emmaline, is a bit of a quandary for the first part of the book.  She is independent, almost to a fault, and is an outsider in the village she grew up in.  She stays to herself, relies on no one, and is wary of love.  Some of her story is contradictory, which was somewhat confusing, but towards the end you realize that this was a deliberate choice by the author to perpetuate the mystery surrounding her character.  I wonder if this might have been a disservice because the reader can guess at her past long before it is actually revealed in the story, but by that point I wasn’t as invested in her as I was in the hero whom I connected with almost from the beginning.

I think the real gem in this story is how the author writes with such tender emotion about a mother’s love for her children and the lengths that she is willing to go to to provide the best life possible for them.  Not only a birth mother, but an adoptive mother as well.  Those moments in the story are truly touching and made the romance richer with more depth to BOTH the hero and the heroine, and all that makes them who they are.  This plays an important part throughout the entire story because of their individual pasts, which colors their choices in their present, as well as their future.  I thought this part of the book was brilliantly written and interwoven with tender loving care that brought tears to my eyes more than once.

I also really enjoyed that there were no manufactured events or really any villains in the story.  This romance is all about the hero, the heroine, the child they both love and care for, the world that they inhabit, and their own personal demons they must overcome.  It was a refreshing change from all of the secret agent of the crown, and multi villain historical romances I seem to be reading all too often. This was about a man and a woman dealing with their pasts and finding acceptance, love, and a family they have both been craving all of their lives.

The Soldier might be slow to win your affections, but as with all great loves sometimes it’s worth the wait.  It has great characters, an engaging plot that had only a few minor faults*, but I really loved it and I hope you will too.  If you've read it I would love to know your thoughts about this book.

*Faults:   A titled hero interested in recipes, ingredients and cooking?  This was a bit much for me to swallow.  I don’t care how long he was a soldier learning to make an amazing apple tart with cinnamon and who knows what else was too far fetched for me.  While in war I very much doubt they carried more than salt as far as spices go.  I could be very wrong about that, but it just seemed a bit....weird.


Overall:  4.5 stars (it has gotten very mixed reviews.  It seems like you either love it, or not.  I loved it once I was really into it, which is why I didn't give it 5 stars)
Sensuality level:  3.0

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Jennie June 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM  

I've also seen mixed reviews for this book. I'll give it a chance though because it sounds interesting to me.

Kathleen O June 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM  

I have never read any of her books and I find myself after reading this review iffy as to whether I will put them on my tbr list.. But I like the hero and the heroine of this book... so I a really leaning toward this book...

Booklover1335 June 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM  

Hey Kathleen,

If you are on the fence I would start with her first book The Heir (which received rave reviews from pretty much everyone that read it) and maybe get it from the library. If you enjoy that then maybe pick up The Soldier. I liked it, but not everyone did. I say start with the safe bet with a new to you author :)

Artemis June 21, 2011 at 7:19 PM  

I'm passing on this one. If I find myself not really sure about a book. Heck, there are too many on the TBR. Thanks for your honest review. I needed that! I won't be reading the first one either.

Booklover1335 June 21, 2011 at 8:14 PM  


I can't say that I blame you. With so many books to choose from I would go for what promises to be a sure thing (though not every book will appeal to every reader).

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