But if Napoleon is to be ejected from Spain, war must also be waged in more covert ways. For Hanley, the former artist who is a more natural observer than fighter, the opportunity to become an 'exploring officer' leads him into even more dangerous territory, the murky world of politics and partisans. And while Ensign Williams seeks to uncover the identity of the mysterious 'Heroine of Saragossa', a conspiracy of revenge within the regiment itself threatens to destroy him before he's even faced a shot from the French.
Wellington has finally driven Napoleon's armies from Portugal, but the cost has been high. Fearing a French counter-attack, the British must rally their tired men and go on the offensive.
Lieutenant Hamish Williams of the 106th Foot relishes the call to action. Spurred on by the prospect of at last redeeming himself in the eyes of Jane McAndrews, he hopes for a battlefield promotion.
But Williams is marching into the bloodiest battle of the war - Albuera. As entire regiments are destroyed in the desperate pursuit of victory, the fate of Williams and his comrades hangs in the balance . . .
But Williams is determined to prove by deeds alone that he is a man worthy of advancement, and when the 106th embarks for Portugal to begin what will become known as the Peninsula War against Napoleon, he knows his chance of glory is at hand. Soon he is receiving a sharp lesson in the realities of war, as the 106th undergoes a bloody baptism at the hands of the French - and he realises that his single-minded devotion to honour may not, after all, be the quickest route to promotion.
Combining the vivid detail of a master historian with the engaging characters and pulsating action of a natural storyteller, TRUE SOLDIER GENTLEMAN is the first volume in what promises to be a classic series.
But while the 106th Foot fights a desperate rearguard action, for the newly promoted Hamish Williams, the retreat turns into an unexpectedly personal drama. Separated from the rest of the army in the initial chaos, he chances upon another fugitive, Jane MacAndrews, the daughter of his commanding officer, and the woman he is desperately and hopelessly in love with. As the pair battle the elements and the pursuing French, picking up a rag-tag band of fellow stragglers along the way - as well as an abandoned newborn - the strict boundaries of their social relationship are tested to the limit, with surprising results.
But Williams soon finds he must do more than simply evade capture and deliver Jane safe and sound to her father. A specially tasked unit of French cavalry is threatening to turn the retreat into a massacre, and Williams and his little band are the only thing standing between them and their goal.