The Counterfeit Guest
When the story begins Mary is a wealthy heiress. Young ladies in her situation ought to marry well—as her friend Susannah Armitage has. But is Susannah’s marriage to Colonel Crosby-Nash all that it seems? Mary thinks not, and when her suspicions lead to a meeting with the elusive spymaster, Cuthbert Shy, he reveals the terrible truth—the colonel is a traitor. At Shy’s request, Mary agrees to accompany the Crosby-Nashes to their country estate, in order to discover his secrets. It is a perilous assignment, and the danger increases when her only means of communicating with Shy is murderously cut off. If only Mary could contact the redoubtable Captain Robert Holland, but as he has inexplicably ended their friendship, his help seems out of reach.… In the grand tradition of Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier, Melikan presents a gripping tale of adventure and romance, while enhancing both with flawless details of time and place. The combination will keep readers holding their breath until the next explosive installment.
Read an Excerpt
ON THE SUFFOLK coast some eight miles east of Woodbridge stood what had once been a priory for women adhering to the Cistercian order. Its appearance had changed over the centuries, and the nuns had long since departed. Yet it was called White Ladies in their memory and, in the spring of 1796, it was to be restored to female rule. A young woman named Mary Finch had inherited both the estate and a considerable fortune, and she had resolved to make her home there.
This resolution could not be enforced immediately. Miss Finch had come to Suffolk under somewhat unusual circumstances, and the lawyers had only recently determined...see more
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Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the development of Mary Finch’s character. Have wealth and social status changed her? Do you agree with Mary’s self-assessment that she has become “concerned only with satisfying her own vanity”? If not, provide evidence to the contrary.
2. Explain Captain Holland’s reluctance to pursue a romantic relationship with Mary. Do you believe his fears are justified? How does Mary attempt to reassure him? Do you think she is successful? Why or why not?
3. What are the central elements of the plot regarding the military installations at Spithead, the Nore, London, and Woolwich? What roles do Crosby-Nash, Rabelais, Major Whittington, and Phoebus play with regard to mutinies at these locations, and why do their plans succeed or fail?
4. Compare Major Whittington’s way of thinking about his duties with Captain Holland’s. What insights do you gain about their characters and motivation? Do you believe that each could stand to learn from the other’s approach? Why or why not?