Historical fiction is made even better when it directly affects historical events. In this particular story, I love that the events during the Napoleonic Wars directly affect our protagonists, and I love how they, in turn, get involved with the events nearing the end of the wars. This all lends an air of time and place that was never fully realised in the first book.
Marriage and trust are huge ideas in the book, as is the pushing of boundaries for women. I love the way that the manners displayed in Belgium directly juxtapose those displayed in England, and I love the way that Jane's character grows as a result of this; in being shown that she does not have to act in a certain way, and that a woman's opinion does matter. The fact that Jane even becomes the hero of the tale, despite many obstructions is very admirable. She fights for her husband no matter what others may think of her, and her determination, cleverness and ideas make her a slightly more contemporary heroine than her Austen-styled rivals.
The ending is superb; a lot more life-threatening than in the first book and with far more action and tension. What begins as a seemingly everyday regency-style novel with threads of magic woven in becomes a tense and fairly thrilling read. Admittedly, there was a part of the end I could see coming a long way off, and it did feel slightly rushed, but really most of the end was quite unexpected.
Glamour, spies and Napoleon all come together to a surprisingly good effect, therefore it gets a 9 out of 10.