Sherry Thomas is something of a rising star in historical romance, both because her books are good and because they're different. She sets her books at the very tail end of the 19th century, rather than the ever-popular Regency or mid-Victorian eras. Her characters are difficult, troubled and flawed but in nuanced ways, and she doesn't do the saintly heroine-sinful hero dichotomy. And all three of the books she's written so far have been second chance stories, featuring the reunion of a couple who've caused each other deep pain.
Not Quite a Husband (2009) is probably my favorite of the three. (Though I don't like the cover. Granted, I've seen tackier clinches, but that's bad enough that I'm vaguely embarrassed to have it show up on my new books blog sidebar. Don't the publishing houses consider the fact some of us are reading these books on public transportation? I don't try to hide my romance-reading habits, but if I'm going to flash the cover to all and sundry, I'd rather it look like Jo Beverley's latest or Julia Quinn's)
Anyway, this book covers the failed, annulled marriage of aristocratic mathematician Leo and well-born doctor Bryony. (Fond as I am of the Regency/Napoleonic era, one benefit to turn-of-the-last-century is that professional women are rare, but not implausible.) We see them meeting again, years later, on what is now the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and learn what drove them apart through flashbacks as they're caught up in the Swat Valley Uprising of 1897. The leads are compelling, and my only real complaint is that the story focuses on them so relentlessly that the setting and secondary characters, though well-researched, didn't feel as three-dimensional as I would've liked.