Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book 1 of the Jasmine Cottage Series
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for a copy that was provided to my by the author*
I was a bit leery about this book, I am more of a once in a lifetime love kind of girl – I do believe in second love, but when I read books, I want first and only love. This book is the story of Jonathan Graves, grieving widower and father of twins and Arabella Warren, orphan and unemployed governess.
While this is a love story, it was more about Jonathan learning to live and love again without his beloved Caroline. Jonathan loved his late wife, truly and deeply and has felt her loss every day since she passed almost three years ago. But when yet another governess leaves his employ, he decides that it is time for him to remarry and places an ad in the paper for a wife.
Arabella has not been successful in her employment, she is a beautiful young woman and while she loves children, she does not love being mauled by the male members of the few households she has worked in. She is living at Jasmine Cottage with her dear friends Emma, Grace and Daphne and they have just invited Lily and Toby to join their household. Money is tight and Arabella feels guilty for living with the sisters and not being able to contribute. She has had no replies to her many letters looking for employment and is beginning to lose hope. When she learns that Mr. Graves is looking for a wife, she decides to meet with him and convince him that he will need a governess before he gets a wife.
When Arabella arrives at his home, she is dismayed to see a huge number of women already in line. As she decides how to proceed, she is greeted by two young children. Louisa and Phillip are immediately taken with Arabella and when they are joined by Jonathan, they tell him they want Arabella to stay. Jonathan is shocked by his reaction to Arabella and wants nothing to do with her, because what he is feeling towards her makes him feel like he is betraying his wife.
Disappointed that Jonathan has decided he does not want a wife and will not consider her for the position of governess, she returns to the cottage and wonders what she will do. Two days later she is surprised to see Jonathan and his children at her home. He has reconsidered (after being nagged by his children) and asks her to be the children’s governess.
The story is sweet and focuses mainly on Jonathan and his struggle to come to terms with the loss of his first love and accepting the possibility of a new love. It was very emotional at times and I honestly wondered if he would be able to love Arabella the way she deserved to be loved.
Arabella knows that she loves Louisa and Phillip and is certain she could love Jonathan, but she refuses to marry without mutual love. As Jonathan and Arabella grow closer, trouble in the form of Lady Cora, an old friend of Jonathan’s wife, steps in and plants the seeds of doubt and reminds him of his love for his wife. Lady Cora has decided that she will marry Jonathan and wants Arabella out of the way. Unfortunately, her plan works, after Arabella and Jonathan share a night of passion, he proposes but is unable to answer Arabella’s question as to whether he could ever love her. Arabella is heartsick, but agrees to stay a few more weeks to learn if she is with child – if she is she will marry him, if not, she will leave. Jonathan agonizes over her question and just as he decides that yes, he can love her, Lady Cora stirs up more trouble.
It will not be an easy road to HEA for these two, but in the end, hearts do meet and love prevails.
I liked the story, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t like that Jonathan was so unsure of his feelings for Arabella – I understood the guilt, but not the mistrust. The book is well written, flows well, has great secondary characters, some warm love scenes and a very touching epilogue. I will definitely be looking forward to reading the rest of the series!