The Wolves of Andover, by Kathleen Kent
New York: Reagan Arthur Books/ Little Brown and Company, 2010
"In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen is forced to take work as a servant in her cousin's home. Unwed and, at nineteen, considered by most a spinster, Martha locks wills with everyone around her -- including Thomas Carrier, the unusually tall and resolutely silent hired worker whose stubborn independence matches her own.
"There are whispers about Thomas's mysterious past and what role the taciturn 'giant' many have played in the English Civil War, which ended with the execution of King Charles I. As Martha comes to know him, she discovers a companion who respects her own outspoken nature and in whom she can confide the dark secrets of her youth. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger lurks both near and far. In London, King Charles II is conspiring with his lords to assemble a band of assassins to kill the man suspected of executing his father. Before long, they will arrive in New England to hunt down the man who cut off the head of a king. And at home, wolves -- in many forms -- are hungry for blood. As Thomas reveals to Martha his days as a soldier in England, she comes to see him as a kindred spirit, even as she realizes his secret will place her, and her loved ones, in danger."
"The woman worked her way out of the crowd, grabbing Cromwell by the cloak, and pulled at it until he turned to face her."
OK, something about that opening line just reminds me more than a little of Ellen in the first pages of Pillars of the Earth. That said ...
Slightly slow to draw me in (the colonial era isn't usually my favorite for historical fiction) but a compelling story once it did. Loved Martha's character and what we get to know of Thomas, who remains more than a bit of a cipher even at the end. Daniel, husband of Martha's cousin Patience and head of the household where Martha and Thomas work, turns out to have a few surprises up his own sleeve, too. Engaging and substantive read.