Series: Caversham-Haberdasher Crossover, Book 1
Release Date: July 30, 2017
This is the story of Harry Manners-Sutton and Phoebe Grenard. Its tie to the Caversham series is through Harry, his sister is Amelia, Duchess of Caversham (you can read Amelia’s story in the novella Miss Amelia Lands a Duke).
Phoebe has had a couple of rough years, her half-brother Wally was impressed into the Navy with four of his university friends just months before they were set to take their final exams. Five were taken, but only three survived. Just months before Wally was set to come home he contracted Dunga Fever and died. In addition to this, her parents ran an inn in London, but when her mother died, her father packed up Phoebe and her younger sister Lydia (who hasn’t spoken a word since the night Wally was taken) and left them with their Aunt Frances and her cousin Francine aka Francie Walters. Just over a year later, her father died, followed by their Aunt a year after that! The girls have tried to continue the dress shop they had with their Aunt, but business is not doing well and the girls wonder how long they will be able to keep the shop going.
It doesn’t seem like things could get much worse for Phoebe, but they do! A very rough looking man comes looking for Phoebe and informs her that her father owed a huge debt to a moneylender by the name of Donovan and if that wasn’t bad enough, her father used his daughters as collateral for the loan and he has come to collect – either she pays the outrageous sum or she and her twelve year old sister will be sent to Donovan’s brothel to work off the debt. Furious, Phoebe threatens the man with a gun and tells him to leave. He does, but warns her not to leave and assures her he will be back.
Still shaken, Phoebe hands the gun to Francie, who promptly fires it when the door is reopened. Only she hasn’t shot Donovan’s man, she has shot a stranger. The strangers turn out to be Harry and his friend Reggie – Wally’s friends who were taken at the same time as Wally. They promised Wally on his deathbed that they would see to his sisters. Harry was attending school to be a doctor when he was taken and immediately takes charge. Francie shot Reggie in the arm and need to be attended.
Once Reggie has been taken care of Harry speaks to Phoebe and learns of her troubles. He vows to help her by taking her to London to sort things out with the moneylender. Harry has decided that he will pay the debt himself, but Phoebe insists on speaking with the man and trying to work out a “payment plan”.
They leave for London with Lydia, leaving Reggie behind to watch out for Francie. When they arrive, Phoebe is horrified to learn that Harry has ties to society and that his sister is a duchess, because over the course of a few days, she had begun to fall in love with Harry, but now believes that he is out of her reach. For his part, Harry is just as smitten with Phoebe, but wants to get the business with the moneylender taken care of before he declares his intentions.
When Phoebe learns that Harry met with Donovan without telling her, she is furious and hatches a plan. But as they say, the best laid plans………………………. And trust me, this was not a well thought out plan to begin with.
Can Harry save the woman he now realize he loves with all his heart? Will Lydia ever speak again? Will Phoebe ever be free of Donovan? And what about Reggie and Francie? To find out, you will have to read the book!
I liked the idea of the story, but the first half of the book seemed to drag and was repetitious. But once they reach London the story takes off like a rocket. It was lovely to see Cav and Amelia, but for this reader it was also bittersweet (if you have read the Caversham Chronicles, you will know what I mean), I loved Harry, Reggie and Francie, but I found Phoebe to be a bit too naïve and stubborn to be truly likable. I did admire her determination and her desire to save her sister, but she really should have thought things out better and ended up coming across as a pattern card, TSTL heroine. And while this book was not as steamy as the previous books, it was just right for this story. The ending was very satisfying and of course there is a HEA.
All in all, it was a good read and I would recommend it to followers of the series, but I wouldn’t consider this book a keeper.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an ARC provided to me by the author*