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An Infamous Army

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This must be the most accurately researched and detailed battle description that has ever appeared in a book of romantic fiction. The battle itself, and the weeks before and after it, forms the time line and backbone of this novel. The title refers to the Duke of Wellington's unkind nickname for the motley collection of national armies under his command in 1815 at Waterloo. Set in Brussels, as the French and Allied forces are converging, Heyer's story concerns the stormy courtship between Lady Barbara Childe and Col. Charles Audley. Lady Barbara, forced into an unloving and ugly marriage in her youth, has buried her hated husband and become a scandalous widow. Colonel Audley is a popular member of the Duke of Wellington's staff who knows the wicked widow's reputation but falls for her anyway; after their first meeting, he proposes marriage. Lady Barbara, fascinated by this direct attack on her defenses, consents to an engagement but refuses to restrain her shocking behavior. The Battle of Waterloo in all its glorious and horrifying detail then becomes the center around which the book's characters orbit. Definitely a romance for the historically minded reader, there is no fluff here. As the conflict rages, Lady Barbara helps to nurse the wounded men who wander back into the city, learning much about life, death, and love in the process. No magical happy endings occur, just the contentment of two people who have grown into their love for one another. Well read by Clare Higgins, An Infamous Army is highly recommended for public libraries. Barbara Rhodes, Northeast Texas Lib. Syst., Garland Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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