Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Soldier Cover

Review of audiobook version of this exciting, fast-paced historical romance

Once a Soldier (Rogues Redeemed #1) by Mary Jo Putney

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Zebra Books
Pages: 368 pages
Source: Library
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Lord Will Masterson is a 32-year-old, wealthy, British aristocrat who could easily have chosen to sit out the Napoleonic wars, safely at home. Instead, he spent many dangerous years on the continent fighting the French. And now that Napoleon is finally vanquished, instead of returning home to England, he takes a dutiful detour by accepting one final mission, which leads him to the fictional, micro-nation, San Gabriel, located high in the mountains near Portugal. Once he arrives there and encounters beautiful, fascinating Athena Markham, Will immediately decides to postpone his return to England indefinitely.

At 28 years of age, Athena has led an unconventional life from the moment of her birth as the illegitimate daughter of two high-born parents. In the company of her eccentric mother, she has had opportunities to travel extensively and have many adventures. Since her mother’s death, her life has ultimately led her to settle in San Gabriel, where she has become a close friend and advisor to Princess Sophia, the future monarch of this nation. Because Athena believes she is not the type of woman who will ever be able to achieve a desirable marriage with a worthy mate, Will’s strong, romantic interest in her both fascinates and worries her. Trust is not something she gives lightly to anyone, especially a man.

In the midst of Athena’s slowly growing respect and regard for Will as she gets to know him, San Gabriel is threatened by dangerous enemies who put the very survival of this small, vulnerable kingdom at risk. Athena and Will, together, vow to do everything in their power to help keep the citizens of San Gabriel safe—and to keep each other alive.

This is a very unique historical romance. Athena is well named! The Greek deity Athena is a goddess of strength, wisdom, courage, law and justice, and strategic warfare—and I see all of these admirable qualities on display in this wonderful heroine. She doesn’t sit back and get rescued. She rides to the rescue herself on multiple occasions in this exciting book.

Will is also a wonderful hero. Like Athena, he is truly heroic. He is honorable, compassionate, brave, and a wonderful warrior.

This book has a strong romance plot, a fun secondary romance, thrilling battle scenes, and there is a slam-bang, satisfying ending which rounds out the story extremely well.

All in all, this is a satisfying read both as to the romance plots and the action-adventure plot. The historical details are also extremely well done, and the setting of San Gabriel really comes to life.

I experienced this novel as an audiobook, which is narrated by Beverley A. Crick, a New York–based actress and accomplished voice-over artist. She does an excellent job acting out all the parts, capably portraying male and female characters of all ages, and many different accents.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Hero: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Romance Plot: 5

Action-Adventure Plot: 5

Historical Setting: 5

Writing: 5

Audiobook Narration: 5

Overall Rating: 5

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