Marie-Ange Norton is summoned to France, ostensibly to claim an inheritance which was hers by right of birth. Her now impoverished state is largely due to her husband's mysterious disappearance whilst fighting in the Napoleonic wars, leaving her in desperate financial need. In order to maintain the family home, for Robert, her husband's younger brother, Marie-Ange must make the difficult journey to her, as yet unknown, relative in France.
Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, a French cuirassier officer, is charged with the responsibility of getting Marie-Ange safely to her destination, namely, the Beauregard Estate in Lyon, France, where she hopes to meet with her relative, Uxeloup Malleval. However, the journey to Lyon is fraught with obstacles and Marie-Ange finds herself relying more and more on the gallant Capitaine's support.
Set in 1815, against the backdrop of the latter years of Napoleonic rule, both time and place is captured really well and there is a distinct sense of excitement, particularly for Marie-Ange, who is a feisty and determined protagonist. From the outset all is not well at Beauregard and her malevolent and scheming relative, Malleval has ideas for Marie Ange's future which seem to have no basis in reality.
I found the book absorbing, with a nice blend of fast-moving thriller and passionate romance and with more than enough twists and turns to keep me guessing until the end. The politics of the time are nicely explained, and the inherent danger which confronts Marie-Ange is told in an imaginative mix of suspense and mystical superstition. The story thrives on danger and political intrigue, but, it is in the burgeoning romance between Marie-Ange and Hugo where the story starts to tug away at the heartstrings. I so wanted everything to work out for them, and with this forefront in my mind, I raced through the story with great enjoyment.
Beautifully written, with a fine eye for detail, Angel Heart combines love, loss, betrayal and shocking family secrets in a story which captivates to the very end.