It is 1795, and Mary Finch sets off to meet her wealthy uncle, hoping to heal a bitter family estrangement and perhaps to avoid a dismal career teaching at Mrs. Bunbury's school for young ladies. Eager for an adventure, she is soon embroiled in one of frightening proportions, for war is raging across Europe, England faces the threat of invasion, and some secrets are more valuable than gold.
As she uncovers a complex and deadly plot involving ruthless smugglers, secret codes, and a dangerous network of spies and traitors, Mary must learn quickly whom she can trust. The apparently stalwart Captain Holland? The dangerous yet attractive Mr. Déprez? Perhaps the mysterious Hicks or even Mrs. Tipton, who knows what is best for everyone, especially Mary? The price of failure may be her life and the safety of all England.
In Melikan's lively, intelligent debut, set in England in 1795, genteel Mary Finch welcomes the chance to escape Mrs. Bunbury's academy, where she teaches young ladies, and visit White Ladies, her wealthy uncle Edward's Suffolk estate. En route, the unconventional Mary, who has a strong interest in the law, meets a dying stranger who in best gothic fashion gives her a mysterious warning. At White Ladies, Mary hopes to resolve some conflict between her father and her uncle, but soon becomes embroiled in smuggling intrigue. The unusual men she encounters include West Indian planter Paul D prez, who fled to England after the French overran his plantation, and Captain Holland, an impoverished artillery officer. In the end, Mary must use her intuition to assess the motives of the people around her and her special knowledge to try to upset a French plot. Readers will eagerly look forward to the second and third volumes in this historical trilogy.