Release Date: June 6, 2017
Series: The 1797 Club, Book #2
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
If you read the previous book, The Daring Duke, you know that there was something between James, the Duke of Abernathe’s sister, Lady Margret aka Meg and Simon, the Duke of Crestwood. These two shared a very close friendship and the longing between them was tangible. But Meg was betrothed to Graham, Duke of Northfield when she was only 16 and her brother inherited. While her heart longed for Simon, she accepted the betrothal to make her brother happy and hoped that she would learn to love Graham.
Simon was devastated when Meg was betrothed to Graham. He loved Meg and wanted to marry her, but he said nothing because he didn’t want to cause problems with James and Graham. Next to Meg, the two men where his closest friends and like brothers to him.
Seven years have passed since the betrothal and time is running out for Meg, James has married and has been hinting that it is time for her to marry Graham and despite the time that has passed, she is still in love with Simon and feels nothing more than friendship for Graham. While at a house party, James and Emma are hosting, Graham asks her if she would like to marry in three months, she feels she has no choice. Their wedding date is announced and she is heartbroken, she secretly hoped that Simon would object and declare himself, but he said nothing.
Simon can’t believe that Meg and Graham are finally going to marry – it feels like his life is over. When the Duke of Roseford finds Simon alone and suggests that Simon might want to take a holiday to get over his pain, Simon agrees, because there is no way he wants to watch his love marry another man. The next day he plans to say good-bye to Meg and then leave. But when he sees her and sees her pain, he wants nothing more than to comfort her. When Meg slips away from the party to clear her head, Simon follows. She wanders for almost an hour before Simon calls out to her. The weather has taken a turn and they are caught in a downpour. Too far from the house to make it back, they take shelter in the abandoned caretakers cottage.
Soaked and chilled to the bone, they start a fire and strip out of their wet clothes, when they agree to share the bed to keep warm and share a passionate kiss, Simon is disgusted with himself and leaves the room. The next morning he is awoken by voices outside and realizes that James and Graham have found them. Unfortunately, they are not alone, and when the group enters the cottage and find a naked Simon alone with an equally naked Meg – everything changes.
Graham is very angry with Simon and says some very hateful things, but he is gracious and agrees to stay long enough to see Simon and Meg’s engagement announced and appear to support the marriage.
Simon cannot seem to forgive himself, he doesn’t believe that he should get his heart’s desire and hates himself for causing so much pain and scandal. As much as he loves Meg, he seem intent on punishing himself and in the process, hurts her as well.
Simon feels incredibly guilty and mourns the loss of his friendship with Graham, he refuses to let himself be happy with Meg and begins to shut her out. For her part, Meg tries to make their marriage work and tries to get Simon to put the past behind them, she is willing to fight for their happiness, until an unexpected visit and confession from Roseford, makes her realize that Simon will never forgive himself and she leaves him.
Simon is confronted by James the next day and when he learns that Meg has left him for good, he finally seems to snap out of the pity party he has been having since they were caught together. For the first time ever, Simon is ready to fight for what he wants and he wants Meg.
This story is so well done, it flows perfectly, has some very HOT love scenes, it is emotional and I never doubted for a moment that these two loved each other, but I confess, I was ready to smack Simon more than once. These two had a very painful journey to their HEA, but once they find it, the ending was worth all the agony this reader suffered!
This is the second book in the 1797 Club series, but there is enough backstory given that you could read this as a stand alone title with no problems. I highly recommend this series and am looking forward to reading Graham’s story!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for and eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*