Series: The Disgraced Lords, #8
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Lady Helen Hawkestone has decided to stop looking for a husband and let fate lead her to her perfect mate. She is the younger sister of Marisa, the Duchess of Lyttleton and Sebastian, the Marquess of Coldhurst and she has seen her brother and sister as well as their friends find their soulmates and will settle for nothing less for herself.
Fate thrusts the most unlikely candidate at her, Clarence Homeward aka Clarey, her sister’s personal secretary. Clarey was instrumental in rescuing Marisa from Victoria and in turn Marisa rescued him and his younger brother Simon from Angelo. Clarey has worked hard in the five years since to make sure he and Simon never ended up back on the streets and nothing and no one will deter him from his path, not even the absolutely gorgeous angel that he has been half in love with for five years. But fate clearly has other ideas.
When Helen offers to help with a newly acquired orphanage, so her sister can go on a surprise anniversary trip, Clarey is opposed, but Helen persists and Marisa gives in to her. Helen has long admired Clarey and most definitely appreciates his good looks, but besides spending time with him, she really wants to help.
Nothing could have prepared her for the harsh reality of the orphanage or her desire to help these children, against Clarey’s advice, she stays and learns that some children are missing – she tells Clarey they must be found. He goes to look and she finagles a way to follow him. He is livid when she shows up and when the fired orphanage master Glover spots them, he kisses her to throw him off their trail. As they return to the home, they are attacked and Clarey is injured. Helen feels awful and cares for him. They both feel the pull of attraction, but Clarey knows what he could lose if he pursues it but Helen wants to explore it. He asks her to go home and reluctantly she agrees, but this is not over between them.
When Clarey returns to work, Helen is waiting, he tries to keep her at arm’s length, but she is sure they could have a future. But Clarey has a dark past that Helen has no knowledge of, he tries to tell her, but she says she doesn’t care. He begins to think that maybe she does love him enough, but when a walk in the park has him encountering a person from his past, he knows that he will never be accepted. Helen is not going to let him walk away, she insists on taking him home after he is re-injured and they move beyond kisses, she tells him that he has to fight for her.
When he is warned off and tries to distance himself, she has doubts, but she still isn’t ready to give him up. She goes to his home and he tells her most of his past, she is shocked, but she still wants him, they make love and reality returns when her brother bursts in.
Helen stands up to Sebastian and will find a way to be with Clarey. But before she can get to him, Glover reappears and Helen is in danger. Clarey goes to the only man who can help him get her back, Sebastian. They find Helen and Glover reveals all of Clarey’s shame to her. Clarey is sure she will turn from him, but to his surprise, she tells Glover she doesn’t care and punches him, enabling a clear shot to kill him. Helen is saved, but that is not the end of their story, they still have to gain her families blessing and based on Sebastian’s reaction, that dream seems impossible.
This was a very emotional read, with a lot of darkness, triggers and angst – but I loved it. It was a beautiful story of acceptance, self-forgiveness, familial love and learning to not let your past define you. It did not have many light moments, but there is action and steamy love scenes, there are villains that get what they deserve and a very sweet epilogue that left me a little teary eyed.
If you have been following this series, you MUST read this book, if you are new to the series, it could be read as a stand alone, but it would be best to start at the beginning of the series and work your way to this book!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*