"Soldier of Fortune" by Judith James

Soldier of Fortune (Rakes and Rogues of the Restoration, #2 )

Soldier of Fortune tells the story of Hope Mathews, a character inspired by Nell Gwynn, and Captain Robert Nichols, a war-weary Parliamentarian captain first introduced to readers in Libertine’s Kiss. Haunted by his past, hardened by years of fighting and consumed by a quest for revenge, Robert Nichols’ honor is a fading memory. When Charles II confiscates his lands to reward one of his backers it seems life as a mercenary is all that’s left, until the king makes him an offer. Marry his mistress, a beautiful courtesan with humble beginnings and he will keep his lands and be richly rewarded. 

To Hope, who dreams of independence it’s a crushing betrayal and for Robert it represents a new low. Bitter, disillusioned, trapped in a marriage neither of them want, their clash is inevitable. Can these two wounded souls realize the answer to all their dreams might lie in each other's arms?

In "Soldier of Fortune" the reader finds out what happened to Captain Robert Nichols after Elizabeth refused his offer of marriage because she had her heart set on William in "Libertine's Kiss." The King took Robert's land to gift to another who had supported him in his fight to regain the throne. Robert did not want to lose the land, but felt there was nothing he could do about it, and he would become a mercenary, that he was not fit for more than that... until the king summoned him with a proposition. Spurred by Elizabeth's friendship and loyalty to the Captain, King Charles decided to give back Robert's lands and a title, IF Robert agreed to marry the king's mistress, Hope. This would allow Hope to be hidden away while the King's marriage was settled, and she would be able to come back to court as a lady to carry on the affair when the King decided to summon her. Hope was tricked into a wedding ceremony, and felt betrayed by both men. She decided she was done with Charles, but her dream of a knight in armor only seemed to blossom while she got to know her new husband. A dream from Hope's childhood is realized, a magical twist of fate had brought them together, but could she get him to open up about his past, and in the process release him from those bonds? There was something dark and evil driving Robert on a path that could destroy him and his surprising new relationship with his "pretend" wife. Secrets about the past were brought to light, things so damaging to him as a child, I couldn't help but feel his pain and anger. As the passion between Hope and Robert grew, the idea of bringing her back to Charles did not sit well with him. He was not a man to share, and the way he claimed his wife in the face of authority was definitely sexy. He had to choose between the path he had traveled more than twenty years in search of a personal satisfaction or the path that conformed to the promises he had made to his bride, and before it was too late - because Charles had summoned Hope back to court and she would go to deal with Charles... with or without her husband. Would Robert fight the king for his wife? He had to fight for her heart, woo and court her and make her want him because in the end, he knew that she would be the one to choose between the men. The intimate scenes between Hope and Robert were described enticingly well.
Hope was a unique heroine in that she was sold as a child, to the highest bidder and became mistress to an older man. She hardened her heart, and learned what she had to in order to survive. However, Robert was a gentleman, and he saw the good, the light and the innocence about Hope. He was mesmerized by the way she had maintained that innocence even after the things she went through. He never judged her for what she was born into and loved her as well as if she were a high born lady. Even though she had a very rough start to life and had given up on fairy tales and finding her one true love, she needn't have worried. It found her instead.
Elizabeth and William showed up intermittently in "Soldier of Fortune" and I enjoyed William as much as in the first book. I am liking Charles less and less with each story, but I have enjoyed this series, as I first read "Libertine's Kiss" and I would read future books.


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