Not by Sight
Not by Sight by Kate Breslin is the story of WWI suffragette Grace Mabry and agent for the crown Jack Benningham. Grace crashes a high society masquerade ball as Pandora and from her box she withdraws white feathers to give to the rich young men who are dancing while her brother fights in the trenches. The first feather she gives is to Jack, a known rogue and reprobate whose exploits often land him in the gossip rags.
Jack’s cover as man about town can be a bit exhausting but it gives him an excellent reason to be seen doing odd things late at night. Tonight is no exception; He is at this party for the sole purpose of stopping a rendezvous between a known agent and his slippery accomplice. Thanks to Pandora distracting him he is unable to catch their meeting so he follows the man he knows in the hope he will lead him to the man he doesn’t. Or that at the very least he can capture the man and the government can force the information out of him. But Jack follows the spy right into a trap and finds himself blinded and scarred in a bomb blast.
Fate, or since this is an Inspirational, the hand of God, lands Grace and Jack together again several months down the road. Grace now works for the Women’s Forage Corp, a group similar to the Land Girls but whose main harvest is hay for the horses in the army. Her first assignment just happens to be at Jack’s estate, Roxwood, where he is recuperating. The two develop a tentative friendship but Grace is afraid to tell him that they have met before, the night she gave him the feather. Will their budding romance survive the truth of that awful first encounter?
A lot of this book is typical historical romance fodder: spies, estates, big misunderstandings and feisty conversations between the hero and heroine. What places this story a bit above the rest is that the author changed the time period from Regency to WWI and as a result the history and setting add a bit of interest to the tale.
The novel is an Inspirational, which includes conversations and introspections on faith and the question of where God is when truly horrible things happen to us. I think the author weaved this seamlessly into the plot but it might be a bit heavy handed for some.
Ultimately, while I struggled with how easy it was for Jack to be blind (I’ve worked with the blind, it’s not easy) I enjoyed the book overall.