Jack Absolute is famous—not really by choice. His friend, playwright Richard Sheridan, has made him the titular character of his comedy play, The Rivals. When Jack returns to America in 1777 to reclaim his place in society, he is shocked to see that his former escapades are now infamous with the theatre-going public.
Jack, former captain of the 16th Light Dragoons, is far more interested in the winsome actress that he is intent on seducing than in becoming the talk of the town. Unfortunately for Jack, the actress is not without a serious suitor, and Jack is pulled reluctantly into a duel. In order to avoid the consequences of dueling (which is quite illegal), Jack is pressed into service by General Burgoyne, one of the leaders of the Loyalist forces. With his Mohawk brother, Ate, by his side, Jack is pulled into fierce battles, and he is also on a mission to rout out a spy within the Loyalist ranks.
Jack Absolute was full of skirmishes, battles, and intrigue. Though the reader knows the identities of some of the spies, there are some that remain unknown. Around two-thirds of the way through the book, Jack gets closer and closer to discovering their identities, and it was this part of the book that was the most intriguing to me.
My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Jack and Ate. Ate seemed a complex character, and he was responsible for getting Jack out of many tight situations. Ate was adept at straddling both the English world as well as the Native world. His brotherly relationship with Jack would be interesting to read about in future installments of Jack Absolute books.
Even though it has been awhile since I took a history class, C.C. Humpreys does an admirable job of making the events of the time accessible to the reader. I quite enjoyed that the book was not written from the Patriots standpoint, and the issue of American independence was not presented in a simplistic way. Instead, some of the Loyalists (including Jack) are sympathetic to the American viewpoint, even while seeking to keep America under British control.
There were several instances where Jack’s rescue from peril was too convenient. One or two of these narrow escapes were thrilling. However, as the “fortunate coincidences” continued, I lost some patience with the ever-lucky Jack Absolute.
With battles, history, espionage, and even a touch of romance, Jack Absolute is a charming historical novel with a witty, charming main character.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina