ABOUT THE BOOK
Lilith Chambers’ quiet life as a parish midwife shatters when the brother thought responsible for her death discovers she’s alive and well. Having been raised in an orphanage, she has few memories of her real parentage or the circumstances of her disappearance from the life she ought to have. As she reorients herself in a new life, she meets the one man she can’t have.
Walter Hobbs, Baron Collingwood, is struggling to assume the mantle of his untimely inheritance. Then he meets Lilith Chambers, the long-lost daughter of the 15th Earl of Roddam. He is struck by love at first sight. She is everything he could ever want in a woman, except for two inconveniences: she is illegitimate, and she wants nothing to do with him.
This is the love story of Walter and Lilith as they discover themselves through each other.
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Walter wondered again if it was too soon to propose.
Throughout the second day of Lady Lilith’s visit, or rather Miss Chambers’ visit, Walter bumped into her everywhere he went. From her expression, one would think he encountered her intentionally.
He had not meant to find himself in the same room as her nearly every hour of the day, but he certainly did not mind when it happened, except every time it did happen, she straightened her spine like a schoolmistress, narrowed a steely gaze at him, and avoided conversation.
Despite the lack of verbal exchange and the accusatory looks she cast his way, he took each of the opportunities to admire her. She wore the same sprigged dress as the day before, and her hair was again worn straight and braided, not curled or styled.
He admired her simplicity, an elegant and natural beauty that needed no augmentation, least of all by ringlets, baubles, and perfume. Visions flashed in his mind’s eye of her in a ballroom, unadorned by jewels in a plain gown, shaming all the women of the beau monde in their layers of gaudy fabric, gold, and diamonds.
His valet Kory slipped the bug in his ear that Miss Chambers had denied the use of a lady’s maid. Walter could not imagine dressing without the aid of his valet. How would he shave without nicking his skin? How would he don the tailor-fitted coat without Kory’s help? How would he tie the neckcloth evenly? How would he even know which stockings matched which waistcoat?
One look at Miss Chambers explained why she did not feel the need for a lady’s maid, but Walter wondered if she was too proud or simply unaccustomed to such luxuries. Surely, once she saw the rationale for a lady’s maid, she would never be without. As silly as he felt thinking of lady’s maids, he could not help himself. He absorbed every piece of information he heard about her.
Initiating conversation was the next goal. He could not very well propose if they had never conversed. Well, technically, he could. Engagements happened frequently in London without the couple exchanging words beyond the offer and acceptance, but Walter refused to be one of those couples, and he suspected Lady—er, Miss Chambers would, as well.
He could see it now. She would be sitting in the parlor alone, embroidering. Wait, no, she did not seem like the embroidering type. She would be sitting in the parlor alone, painting. Dash it all. That did not seem right either. Had she said at dinner that she painted? Would she even paint in a parlor? No, that would not do.
She would be sitting in the parlor alone, reading. Yes, that seemed a realistic fantasy. He would accidentally catch her in the parlor, apologize for the intrusion, but upon seeing her smile, he would proceed into the room, encouraged.
With quick strides, he would cross the room, drop to the floor before her, clasp her hands in his, well, after she politely set aside the book she had been reading, and then he would say, “Lilith, beautiful siren of my heart, will you do me the honor—.”
“Practicing, I see?”
Aghast, Walter spun towards the parlor door to see his mother observing him with her lorgnette.
With hand to heart, he laughed a single ha.
“Thank the Lord, it’s you, Mama,” he breathed in relief. “I thought for a minute it might be—”
“Lady Lilith, the siren of your heart?” she finished for him.
“Precisely.” He laughed again, his pulse still racing, and crossed the room to offer an arm to his mother.
After he saw her comfortably seated, he took the seat next to her.
“Shall I ring for a tray?” he asked.
“Heavens no. I’m going to float home at the end of the visit. I’ve never seen a family drink so much tea. I could use a sherry, or better yet, a brandy, to be honest,” Hazel said, looking around the room, her lorgnette still in hand. “Do you know, I haven’t seen a single strong drink since we arrived. Found it in abundance at the ducal estate, but not a drop here. Do you think the butler has it hidden from guests? Well, no matter. Let us return to your proposal. One day and already Lady Lilith has caught your eye?”
“She prefers Miss Chambers, Mama. I suppose after a lifetime of being one name, it is difficult to get used to another,” he observed.
“Nonsense. She’s being obstinate. Although, she needn’t get too used to Lady Lilith, either, if you’re planning to offer for her.” She patted his hand. “Walter, my boy, I’m pleased someone has finally caught your eye, but I hope you realize she may not give you a second glance.”
Startled, Walter stammered, “Why on earth would you say that?”
“She’s the daughter of an earl, dear boy. Without doubt, her brother will set up an impressive dowry for her. While her age won’t do her any favors, her lineage and newfound inheritance will curry favor amongst the nobles. She could very well aim for a duke. If you want her, you’ll need to woo her with more than your title, I’m afraid. Although, and I say this as both your mother and a woman, I cannot imagine any lady of sense not being taken by you. You take after your father. So handsome.” She tittered.
Walter cringed with embarrassment and shook his head. “You think the Trelowen estate would be too quaint? You think she would prefer to be a duchess in some ostentatious mansion like Cousin Charlotte’s?”
“After growing up in an orphanage and having to work for a living, I wouldn’t doubt that she would set her sights high. She has the means and money now. Can you really imagine her settling for Exeter when she could have a dukedom? And what of your plans to spend summers on the Cornwall coast with your Uncle Cuthbert? I can’t see her following you to a seaside cottage to take in the views or visit the tin mines. No, if you have your eye on her, you’ll need to do far more wooing to make any of that sound remotely attractive.”
Walter slumped his shoulders. “I hardly slept last night from convincing myself she would prefer the simple life of a baroness after having grown up in a parish. With her experience at the orphanage, I even convinced myself she might be interested in helping me with my philanthropic endeavors, whatever they end up being. I know, I know, I’ve already dreamt up a life with a woman to whom I’ve never spoken, but I know she’s the one, Mama. I know it. I can feel it.”
“I don’t doubt you, my boy,” Hazel said. “But heed my words; you will need to work for her. Her life has changed in the past year. She’s a lady now. No doubt, she will move here with Sebastian and Lizbeth, for no lady would continue to work when she has relations to care for her; it’s ungenteel. With the help of Lizbeth, she’ll enter Society. Once she tastes the life she was meant to live, she’ll not return to a simpler life. You must woo her, so if some fancy duke happens by, she’ll have eyes only for you. Yes?”
He nodded, remedying his posture with renewed confidence. The ladies during the London Season had certainly never resisted his charms, so if he could win them over with a single glance, surely, he could win over Miss Chambers.
“And you don’t mind, Mama, that her background is less than perfect?”
Hazel swatted his arm. “You forget my own humble origins, young man. She may have grown up in an orphanage, but she’s still a lady. Her background adds to her charm, I think. She’ll be quite the curiosity when she enters Society, the long-lost daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Roddam. Oh, I think she’s remarkable.”
Walter strengthened his resolve to pursue her. He need only engage her in conversation. Mix charm with compliments, and she would be his before the end of their visit.
A new vision formed in his imagination of the two of them waving to their family from inside a carriage. Wedding guests threw rose petals into the air as the couple rolled their way from the church to his estate to live happily ever after.
** 4.5 Stars **
I do believe this author has definitely hit her stride in the great addition to The Enchantresses series. It is delightfully engaging and filled with endearing characters, humor, heartbreak, and a lovely HEA. It is a well-told, realistic tale, but it is a bit slow-paced. If you are looking for excitement, you will not find it in this book. The story is steady and develops step-by-step just as it would in real life.
We first learned of Lilith in the first book of the series, The Earl and The Enchantress. Lilith was ripped from her brother, Sebastian, at the age of eight and dumped in an orphanage where she lived until she came into adulthood. After that, she became a teacher at the orphanage as well as a talented midwife.
Lilith had a real dislike and distrust of anyone from the upper classes – from landed gentry on up. Why would she ever trust them? Her mother didn’t want her anymore and her cruel father dumped her off at the orphanage and she never heard from her brother again – well – until she did – not too long ago. He thought she was dead all of this time. Sebastian’s father had convinced Sebastian that it was his fault that his sister was dead.
Sebastian has made a substantial donation to the orphanage where Lilith was raised and it is managed by the local rector, Harold Sands. Lilith has dreams of being able to help the orphans but also being able to help the women who have fallen in one way or another and have to place their children in the orphanage.
Sebastian has been visiting with Lilith in her small village of Allshire off and on for the last months and now, it is time for Lilith’s first visit to his home. She’s acting as a midwife for Sebastian’s wife, Lizbeth, who is about ready to give birth.
To me, it seems that Lilith doesn’t just dislike the upper crust, she has a large inferiority complex. She’d never admit it – but she never feels quite adequate around them and is sure that all of them are looking down on her.
Walter Hobbs, Baron Collingwood
Walter has been adrift – all of his life, but especially for the last few years, since his father died. He feels guilty for his father’s death and he feels guilty for all of the time he wasted and didn’t spend with his father. He wants to make his mark on the world but just can’t decide what that mark should be or even how to get started if he did know. He thinks he’d like to start an orphanage but isn’t sure just how to go about doing it and just procrastinates. In a way, he actually suffers from melancholia – or maybe it is ennui – whatever, he just can’t get himself motivated.
He and his mother are spending time with his cousin Lizbeth as she awaits the arrival of her first child. He’s excited for his cousin and can’t wait for the arrival.
His mother has been encouraging him to wed, but he just hasn’t seen anyone who interested him. Those young, immature debutantes can’t even carry on an intelligent conversation.
I loved Walter. It was so much fun to watch him come to grips with himself. He is such a priggish fellow – always immaculately attired, not a hair out of place nor a speck of dust anywhere and the model of decorum, manners, and propriety. Then, this goddess comes gliding across the lawn toward him and he is absolutely gobsmacked! She is the exact opposite of him – she isn’t dressed in anything fashionable, nor does she care to be, she says what she thinks when she thinks it, she is intelligent – and she doesn’t like him a bit.
I loved Walter’s description of Lilith’s smile. “Oh, he had missed that laugh. Low and sultry, a velvet kiss on the ear.”
I loved this book even with the slow pacing. I came to really like and admire each of the main characters and could fully see how they came to care for each other over a period of time. Even after Walter came to think that Lilith was the one with whom he could spend his life, he realized the ramifications of a life with her – especially if she chose NOT to be the full sister of Sebastian. I also loved that Lilith realized that she had to come to terms with what she wanted in her life – could she forsake everything she’d worked for and her place of respect in the village and embrace the aristocratic life in order to be with Walter?
I didn’t care for the villain because he was basically a milquetoast villain. He acted more like a spoiled little brat than a real villain – and yet with all he did do, he didn’t pay any price at all. This bloodthirsty reader wants the villains to pay – commensurate with the harm they cause. So, for this villain, I would have liked for him to have been transferred to a parish at the end of the world with no chance of moving up in the clergy – but that didn’t happen.
I would have loved it if Lilith had her grand epiphany not long after leaving the village the second time and then she and Walter would work together to figure out how to undo the damage wrought by the villain AND to avoid a scandal while introducing her to society. Walter was left out of all of that part of the story and I hated that. Having them work together would have given them more bonding time and solidified their relationship rather than just ending abruptly as it did. But then – if it were written my way, I would be an author rather than a reader. Still…
I definitely recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About The Author
Paullett Golden is a Houston, Texas native who now divides her time between
Northumberland, England, and her hometown. She has been a university professor for over 20 years.
When an oncologist told her she had three months to live, she decided it was time to fulfill her dream of being a novelist. After defying the odds, she now focuses her attention on her writing.
Her debut novel has hit the Amazon bestseller list multiple times and has won a Reader Views Literary Award. She loves historical fiction of all kinds as a way to transport us to a different time and place. All research comes from authentic resources of the time and from scholarly and peer-reviewed articles from researchers specializing in the time. Though she may take liberties with the fictional aspects, she does aim for the fiction to reflect the mores, culture, laws, and environment of the time. When not writing, she can be found in her butterfly garden or on a race track.
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