Mrs Calcott's Army, by Lorraine Swoboda
1817, Dorset: Walking home along the river bank from Wimborne market, lonely war widow Lydia Calcott is accosted by an unknown assailant and left to drown.
Major Mark Roper, adrift in the slow world of peace, comes to Dorset with his young brother to examine a run-down manor that is part of his unwanted inheritance. Hearing Lydia’s desperate cry he rides to her rescue and takes her to the manor, where he determines to protect her from the would-be killer.
With a new companion, Aggie, the rascally batman Ramsden, and some of Mark’s troops on her side, Lydia has more friends than she has ever known. With their help she faces up to her bitter and angry mother, and prepares to take control of her life and the house that should have been her refuge.
When happiness seems within reach, however, Mark’s wartime demons re-awaken, and another enemy strikes a blow from which it seems Lydia cannot recover.
Even in a small market town, society’s strictures apply; but when survival is at stake, one must make one’s own rules, and find solutions in unexpected quarters.
Smuggling, arson, past enmities and love are all mixed together in this traditional Regency novel.