Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: 6/25/19
Number of Pages: 348
Whew! I have to take a rest! There was a lot going on in this book by new-to-me author Caroline Fyffe. I enjoyed both love stories and the mystery, the writing was excellent, and I loved the characters. I’d even like to see some of them in their own books. I’ll definitely read this author again.
When the book first started off, I thought, “Oh man, not another one that gets it wrong.” Then, she turned it right around and got it right. Good going! It appeared that she was going to have an illegitimate son inheriting the title – and we all know that is absolutely impossible. So – good for you Ms. Fyffe.
Beranger Northcott had a horrid childhood as the illegitimate child of the Duke of Brightshire. At the age of thirteen, he’d run away from the father who never loved him and the step-mother who mistreated him. He rode to the harbor and sold his freedom for four years as a deckhand aboard a ship, the Destiny. When his four years were up, he found himself in America where he made his fortune. Now, he’s returning to Ashbury Castle as the new Duke of Brightshire – along with his duchess, the love of his life, Emma Brinkman Northcott. They are newlywed and firmly, steadfastly and stalwartly in love – and I was so happy to see that nothing could shake that.
Emma is an American through and through. She’s an American heiress, but not the kind we usually read about – as in she’s not from New York, Boston, Boston, etc. She and her four sisters inherited one of the largest, most profitable ranches in Colorado – the Five Sisters Ranch. She and her sisters are very, very close and she cannot imagine not being able to see them every day, but here she is, in England with the man with whom she fell instantly in love.
English life as an aristocrat isn’t easy for either Beranger or Emma. Beranger has spent so many years in America that he is more American than English and Emma – well, she has a strong belief in equality and she sure isn’t finding that in England. Add to that an insufferable ‘step-mother’ who takes delight in belittling Beranger and Emma and trying to make them appear inept and you have a situation that could begin to unravel their love. However, I love that wasn’t the case – their love never wavered – no matter what was thrown at them. Even when Beranger became very ill and Emma suspected someone was poisoning him, she didn’t cower, she stood strong and guarded him like a tigress.
The second love story features Charlotte Aldridge and Tristen Llewellyn.
Charlotte is the niece of the local bakery owner and Tristen is the nephew of the gamekeeper at Ashbury Castle. Charlotte has always felt that her Aunt Ethel hated her. She berates and belittles her constantly. Nothing Charlotte ever does is good enough and that hatred grows exponentially when Charlotte catches the eye of the new duchess and is offered a position at the castle.
Tristen is so grateful to his uncle for taking him into his home and is now very happy to fill in as gamekeeper at the castle during his uncle’s illness. His uncle could have just left him to fend for himself and with his past to haunt him, he wouldn’t have fared very well. When Tristen meets the new duke and duchess, he really likes them – and they like him in return.
Between Tristen’s secret, Charlotte’s troubling suspicions about her cousin Thomas, the possible murder of the last duke, mysterious illnesses of the new duke, the attention of Mr. Winter, and a startling revelation about Charlotte, their romance seems doomed. The road to their HEA isn’t an easy one, but it was nice to see it when it arrived.
This book left me scratching my head over a few details that didn’t feel wrapped up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.