Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins

On a bright May day, Anne Peabody receives an unexpected kiss from a stranger. Bringing news of the repeal of the Stamp Act, Jack Hampton, a member of the Sons of Liberty, abruptly sweeps Anne into his arms, kisses her-and then leaves her to her fate of an arranged marriage...

New York City, 1775

Anne, now the Widow Merrick, is struggling to survive in a city on the brink of war. In a time when Loyalists are tarred and feathered, Anne continues her late husband's business, printing Tory propaganda, not because she believes in the cause, but because she needs the money to survive. When her shop is ransacked by the Sons of Liberty, Anne once again comes face to face with Jack Hampton. But he is no longer the optimistic youth she remembers. Despite her better judgment, Anne finds herself drawn to both the ardent patriot and his rebel cause.

As shots ring out at Lexington and war erupts, Anne is faced with a life-altering decision: sit back and watch her world torn apart, or take a stand and fight for both her country's independence and her own.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed The Turning of Anne Merrick which is the second book by author Christine Blevins to feature Anne Merrick and Jack Hampton. Because that review was for a blog tour, and I hate to read out of order, I had to read this book before I could even think about starting Turning. Unfortunately I ran out of time to review this one first, so now I am reviewing out of order! Oh well.

The book opens on the wedding day of young Anne Merrick. She is marrying a much older man in a marriage that has been arranged to benefit both Anne's father and her new husband. The only person not obviously happy with the arrangement is Anne herself.

It so happens that on the same day the hated Stamp Act has been repealed and the Sons of Liberty are celebrating. One of the Sons, Jack Hampton, brings the news and in the excitement of the moment grabs Anne and kisses her!

Fast forward to 1775, and Anne is now not only a widow, but she has also lost her child. Now she is running the printing press that she took over from her husband, assisted by his former slave Titus, and her servant and friend Sally. Her most important priority is keeping the business running, and in order to do so she has been printing Tory propaganda - a very risky business in these days of tar and feathering.

When her property is searched by the Sons of Liberty, she once again comes face to face with Jack Hampton, but just like Anne, he has matured in the intervening years and is now a much more jaded and sceptical man.

Anne knows that she needs to find another way to protect her income and so opens a coffeehouse as a front which, once the city is taken over by the Redcoats, gives her the perfect way to spy for the opposition.

Anne and Jack circle around each other warily. They are both attracted to each other, but he isn't sure of her loyalty to the cause, and she most definitely doesn't trust him - with good reason. In the early parts of the relationship, Jack is something of a jack-the-lad, drinking too much, spending time with whores and more.  To be honest, I think that Anne is a little too easily forgiving of this, but I guess the book wouldn't have moved forward if we had to wait too long for the relationship between the two main characters.

Anne walks a dangerous tight-rope between the two sides of the conflict, and if she falls the consequences could be terrible. The author does a great job of showing life in New York during a time of great uncertainty for everyone, as the city changes hands, as areas of the city become dangerous even when just running simple errands, and as you don't know who you can trust from one day to the next.

Even without the added incentive of having a blog tour post coming up, I would have picked up the sequel to see what happened next. Now I guess, I just have wait even longer to see exactly how Anne and Jack's story concludes.

Rating 4/5

Click here to read a quote from the book.

Review originally posted at

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed getting a feel for the American Revolution in Blevins' Tory Widow, but I was far less forgiving of Jack's antics (THE BOOKS!) than Anne and I just wasn't sure she couldn't do better! But here's hoping the sequel convinces me otherwise.