There is more than a tinge of swashbuckling daring do and romantic yearnings when Lord St. Mars carries Hester off (briefly) in order to recruit her as an ally to his cause. The moment is particularly memorial as it marks the beginning of the odd partnership for which the book is rightly named. Hester (aka Mrs. Kean) is a misused relative who is reduced to becoming a waiting lady to her beautiful but vapid cousin, Isabel. Gideon Viscount St. Mars enters the scene as suitor to Isabel, but losses out when his father, Earl of Hawkhurst, is murdered and St, Mars is accused of the deed. Isabels conniving mother instead snares St. Mars cousin for Isabel after he takes the accused murderers estate, wealth, and noble name. Instigating an upwardly mobile marriage for a daughter is rightly shown as a mothers prime preoccupation.
In a time with no police force, victims often resorted to bringing offenders to justice themselves, which St. Mars tries to do under the disguise of a highwayman (the Blue Satan), joining the alarming numbers of outlaws who populated the English heaths and woods. Hester, believing him innocence, sees her role as being the one to observe things he could not see, the little happenings of her limited circle that might point to his fathers murderer.
The story unfolds in a divided and suspicious England after the Glorious Revolution (1688) had preserved Protestant rule and thus denied the throne to the closest in line, Roman Catholic James Edward Stuart, the Pretender. Supported by the Whig Party, German speaking George I of the Hanover line reigns. The Pretender, however, lurks in the wings in France, supported by Jacobite spies, the opposition Tory Party, English and Irish Catholics, and nonjuring clergy (those who refused to swear allegiance to Protestant kings}. These anti-Whig discontent are found to be linked to St. Mars father, and thus to St. Mars.
The author points out that writers have surprisingly ignored this era which she says is a prefect time for fiction. Her book shows this to be true as it fulfills all this sites requirements - solid background information, credible period details and dialog, and an inquisitive down to earth heroine. The book contains both Historical Background and Authors Notes, and the unresolved ending opens the door to the next Blue Satan and Mrs. Kean book, due in 2006.