Series: First Comes Love #2
Publication Date: 4/28/20
Number of Pages: 352
** 3.5 Stars **
In the first book of the series, The Earl Next Door, we learned about the sinking of the Salty Dove and the impact that had on the families of the passengers and crew. We also met and got to know the ladies who are featured in this series and their struggles to come to grips with what happened by creating a school to educate the young girls who were orphaned by the sinking. While this book is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The writing was good, I liked the characters in general, the story had promise, but I did find myself skimming portions of it. If you like a lot of steam in your books, you won’t find it in this one. There are a couple of love scenes, but they are told more from an emotional standpoint than from a more graphic one. That part is fine with me as I’m happy with no steam or a lot of steam – as long as they are done well.
Julia was being forced into a vile marriage she didn’t want and Kitson’s father was trying to force him into an arranged marriage that would benefit both families. Kitson very much wanted to defy his nasty father and Julia wanted to avoid marriage to a man who was her father’s age – their solution was to run away and marry at Gretna Green. Theirs wasn’t a love match, but it worked well enough for them – until Kitson died on the Salty Dove and Julia was left expecting and under the very firm control of her father-in-law, the Duke of Sprogsfield. After four years of widowhood, she’s just as tightly under his control as she ever was – and she’s looking for a way out. The duke has told her she is welcome to leave any time she likes, but his grandson will remain with him. Now she has a plan for them to escape – can she pull it off?
Garrett Stockton wanted more from his life than living on a stipend doled out by a titled relative. His father was perfectly happy with that life and tried to raise Garett to be the same way, but it just didn’t sit well with Garrett. Garrett’s father was very good at reading people and he was very lucky. When Garrett tried to convince him to put those talents into a business, his father was appalled. Gentlemen didn’t work or engage in trade! So, when Garrett’s father died, Garrett took off in a ship that his father had won in a card game and turned that ship into a very successful shipping fleet. Now, the ton doesn’t know what to make of Garrett. Is he still a gentleman? Not by many standards, but he is very wealthy. After all these years, Garrett is getting restless and wants more in his life – he wants a home. Not just any home – he wants the one he was raised in, the one his father said they could never own because it belonged to the title. He just has to get his titled relative to sell it.
I loved the initial meeting between Julia and Garrett. It was witty and entertaining. They were instantly attracted to each other, but Julia knew she could never act on any attraction because that would go against the Duke’s dictates of how she should live her life. Garrett just wanted to be with her, to help her any way he could. As he wins her trust and they manage to spend time together, she comes to trust him and believe in him. If they can outwit the duke, will they have their HEA?
All-in-all, it was a cute story, but just didn’t have any real depth nor character growth. I think the duke overshadowed the romance because 99.9% of the conversations and interactions centered around him rather than them getting to know each other. Some things dragged on too long and if those had been shortened, then more time could have been spent developing the main characters and their relationship. I will be looking forward to seeing how the next book goes.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.