John Beecham isn’t a former member of the Company. He’s a brilliant mathematician who couldn’t attend Oxford because he was born to a lower class family but has found his way to India where he studies with some amazing Indian scholars/mathematicians, and has come to the attention of a Maharaja. And the Maharaja’s daughter.
Margaret Osborne’s brother died of a fever shortly after their arrival, but after they had secured introductions to various well-placed Indian aristocrats. She is linguistically gifted and is asked to be the companion to Roshanara to teach her a variety of European languages. The Empress meets her and quickly decides Margaret must be her spy.
Daniel Beecham is a mercenary who resents his brother for leaving Daniel responsible for the care/maintenance of their elderly mother. He frequents brothels, but when he meets dancing girl Chanchal, he cannot resist her entreaties and buys her freedom. He doesn’t believe he’ll ever fall in love. Chanchal is determined to prove him wrong.
Henrietta Beecham is brought to India as a chaperone/duenna for Miss Violet Woodhouse, who has failed to become engaged after multiple Seasons. Henrietta has breast cancer and has been dosing herself with laudanum to cope with the pain.
Miss Violet Woodhouse is eager to explore. She doesn’t want to settle down and has subtly dissuaded multiple men from making her an offer. She is curious and impetuous. She’s not interested in becoming a society matron but would like a partner for adventures.
Benoit Castillion lost his young wife and baby to a fever. He’s thrown himself into a military career because the alternative was the priesthood, but he has lost his faith. He is deeply pragmatic and respects pragmatism in others.
Samuel Parker is a villain who doesn’t want to be one. He sees just how to exploit his old friendship with John Beecham and Violet Woodhouse’s interest and wishes he didn’t. The way he looks at John, you cannot help but wonder if friendship is all he feels for the man…