Series: The Devils of Dover, #2
Release Date: September 25, 2018
It has been 5 years since Eli Dawes left for war with Rose Hayward’s betrothed Anthony and she believed they both died at Waterloo. But the man standing in her studio is not the same handsome rake who she remembers, because that man truly did die at Waterloo.
Eli Dawes, the new Earl of Rivers had never planned to return to England. Injured and left for dead at Waterloo, he has spent the last 5 years in Belgium, first recovering from the horrible burns that left him disfigured and then hiding. When he learns of his father’s death, his inbreed sense of duty compels him to return home. But he won’t stay in London, instead he goes to his Dover estate, Avondale House. He is shocked to find Rose in residence, apparently her sister leased the house for a summer term for her school, the Haverhall School for Young Ladies and Rose teaches painting.
Rose and Eli shared a unique friendship before he left and once he was gone, she believed he, along with his friend (and her fiancée) betrayed her. She is still hurt and angry and wants nothing to do with him. Rose has not had an easy time in the years since Eli left, she has changed. She is a gifted artist and after learning the truth of their loss of fortune after her parents died, has used that talent to help support her family. But Rose has other reasons for staying away from the ton and she believes Eli played a big part in that. The morning after he arrives, she has it out with him and shows him some of the cruel caricatures that Anthony published, caricatures she thought Eli knew about and helped Anthony with. When his shock is apparent, she realizes that he truly didn’t know what Anthony had done and apologizes.
Rose is the only woman Eli has never forgotten, he was falling in love with her and tried to get over her with other women and a wild life, when that failed, he decided to leave and went to war. But seeing her again, brings him right back to where he was before he left – he still loves her and still wants her. She pushes him to move out of hiding, to be a better man. When she introduces him to Lady Anne, he gets an idea of how he can help the families of fallen soldiers and Rose supports him 100%. They grow closer and finally become lovers. Rose convinces him that he needs to return to London and stake his claim on the earldom. He asks her to go with him and she agrees.
They arrive in London and Eli gets several surprises and has high hopes for the future, but instead of the HEA he envisioned, Rose breaks his heart and returns to Dover. Eli is crushed and throws himself into his project to try and forget his pain, but when the Duke of Holloway comes to see him and Eli learns why Rose wouldn’t stay in London, he is resolved to win back the only woman he has ever loved.
This is a very emotional story about two broken people, with lots of angst, secrets and the healing power of love. It is well written, flows nicely, has wonderful characters, steamy love scenes, some surprises and an ending that brought tears to my eyes. This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title. I am happy to recommend this book, but make sure you have a tissue handy!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*