Signet, Jul 2002, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1771, Sir Nicholas Spenser, his mother and his sister travel to Cork, Ireland at the invitation of Sir Thomas Purefoy, who wants the aristocrat to marry his younger daughter Clara. Nicholas needs an heir and Clara seems the ideal candidate. On the trek, an agitated secretary to the bishop stops Nicholas' coach insisting that the Irish rebel Shanavests had accosted them. Nicholas helps the bishop by punching the rebel leader in the mouth, but is shocked that he hits a girl, who escapes. He learns that he fought with the vicious Egan.
Later Nicholas asks Clara about the Shanavests. She contends they represent morality unlike the detached bishop. That night Nicholas and his family meet Clara's older sister Jane. Nicholas and Jane recognize one another, but he remains silent that she is Egan. Jane finds the nobleman desirable, but believes he will harm her cause. Nicholas pursues Jane as she fascinates him. As he learns from Jane about the Irish plight, they feel bound by love, but with the Irish question between them love may not be enough to bind their relationship permanently.
The sequel to the entertaining THE PROMISE, THE REBEL is an exciting is a well-written historical romance that allows readers time to believe in the relationship between the lead protagonists. No one can claim that the idealistic activist Jane is not part of the solution. Nicholas' compassion towards the poor makes him a wonderful male protagonist, he pales next to Jane. Though the ending wraps up deep-rooted social problems much too neatly, fans have quite an exhilarating treat that will amplify the esteem received by May McGoldrick.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner