The British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War brings together two unlikely comrades, redcoat Sam Gilpin and rebel Jonathon Becket. The story of these two young men evocatively illustrates the divided loyalties that characterized this war. Though both men love the same woman, the true heroine of the novel is Becket's patriot sister, Martha Crowl. She commands the attention of the reader with every appearance. The grim and gory reality of war is skillfully played out against the gaiety of Loyalist society. Cornwell's fictional characters mingle well with the historical figures of the time.