Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Survivors, #2
Release Date: March 6, 2018
I liked this book, but not as much as the previous book.
Lady Juliana St. Maur aka Julia, last surviving daughter of the Earl of St. Maur has taken over the St. Dismas Home for Wayward Youth or as she calls it Sunnybrooke Home for Boys, an orphanage in Spitalfields. Her father has allowed her to continue her work there believing that it was part of her grieving the loss of her sister, but now he has had enough and he wants her to come home.
Enter Major Neil Wraxall, aka Warrior, war hero, member of the Survivor’s Club and illegitimate son of the Marquess of Kensington. His father and Juliana’s father are friends and the Earl has asked Kensington to have his son bring Julia home. Neil believes this will be an easy “mission” and he will be back in his club drinking gin before dinner.
Neil’s first encounter with Julia is certainly not what he expected, he didn’t expect a gorgeous woman in a ball gown covered in flour, he didn’t expect rats and he didn’t expect to have to wrangle boys and get breakfast. He tells Julia he is here to escort her home and she tells him she isn’t leaving. Her maid has quit, her cook has quit and now her teacher is leaving, she cannot leave the boys alone. Neil decides to help her get things in shape at the orphanage, so he can keep her safe until he can get her to leave.
Julia’s father has let Julia stay at the orphanage as long as she agrees to participate in ton events and she doesn’t cause a scandal. Julia really could care less about the ton, she has no desire to marry and doesn’t trust men. Her heart was broken when her sister died and she lost her nephew Davy. She pours all the love she had for them into the orphanage and she will not leave. She is not exactly thrilled to have Neil there, but considering the unforeseen threats she has received from the local crime boss Slag, she isn’t in a rush to get rid of him.
What began as a simple mission to bring a pampered earl’s daughter home has morphed into an epic battle of wills and neither Julia or Neil is willing to give an inch. Neil makes repairs and unwillingly helps with the boys, earning Julia’s respect. There is an immediate attraction between them, but they both fight it. Slowly Julia begins to trust Neil and finally shares the threats Slag has made. Neil vows to keep her and the boys safe and promises that he will take care of Slag.
When it appears that Slag is no longer a threat and Julia is safe, Neil decides to leave. Julia asks him to stay, she knows she loves him, but Neil can’t seem to let go of the past and enjoy the future. He cares for Julia, but he is not the man for her. Julia is left broken hearted and Neil returns to his “life”. It seems there will be no HEA for these two, until Rafe steps in and Slag reappears and Neil realizes that he loves her, but it might be too late.
This was a very well written book, the story moves right along and there is no lagging, the secondary characters are wonderful – loved the boys! There are cameos by Rafe & Ewan (yes!), steamy love scenes, some amusing moments, some nail biting moments and finally a very, very hard earned HEA. There is much to recommend this book, but the idea that a young unmarried woman could do what Julia was doing and still be accepted in polite society defies belief and Neil’s overwhelming guilt and his negative outlook got to be a bit tiresome.
This is the second book in the Survivors series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems. I would happily recommend this book and can’t wait for Rafe’s book!!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*