Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Westcott, #8
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Lady Jessica Archer, daughter of the late and sister to the current Duke of Netherby, has decided that this will be the year she finally marries. At 25, she has had many opportunities, but when her dearest friend and cousin Abby’s life was upended by scandal, Jessica stood by her in solidarity, but Abby married two years ago and Jessica realizes romance is probably not in the cards for her. She decides that she will make a practical match, much to Abby’s dismay. But little does she know that fate has something else in store for her!
Gabriel Thorne first sees Jessica at a small inn in the middle of nowhere and immediately dislikes her, as she is the reason he has to give up the private parlor he paid handsomely for! Gabriel is back in England not by choice, he left 13 years ago under a cloud of suspicion and made a new life for himself in America. His mother’s cousin adopted him and took him under his wing, leaving Gabriel a prosperous shipping business, that Gabriel turned into an even more prosperous shipping empire. But when the past comes back to haunt him and the fate of someone he loves is caught in the balance, Gabriel leaves Boston and returns to England to claim his birthright. Gabriel is actually Gabriel Rochford, the Earl of Lyndale and is soon to be declared dead. Gabriel was happy to let the title pass on to his cousin Manley Rochford, despite their past, but when Manley starts making changes that hurt people Gabriel loves, he will do his duty. Part of that duty will be to marry and he decides that haughty Lady Jessica is perfect for the job! He goes to London and meets with his godfather Sir Trevor Vickers, due to the accusations leveled against Gabriel when he left, they decide to keep his identity a secret until Gabriel can clear his name. But they do sponsor him and introduce him to the ton.
Jessica begins the season hoping that there will be some new prospective suitors in town and is surprised (and intrigued) to see Gabriel, but he is not the only new face, she is also impressed and attracted to the soon-to-be Earl of Lyndale’s son, Anthony Rochford. When Gabriel tells Jessica he intends to marry her, she is annoyed and tells Gabriel that if he wants to marry her, he will have to romance her! They spend more time together and it is not long before Jessica figures out who Gabriel really is and vows to help him claim his title and clear his name.
This was a well written, slow paced love story with a dash of mystery. The book chock full of betrayal, lies, murder, secrets, likeable characters, mild to warmish love scenes, a bit of intrigue, a vile villain, the entire Westcott family and lots of my personal favorite AVERY! I enjoyed the story, but I really didn’t feel the “romance”, it was definitely an unstated, slow burn type of love story – I did believe they loved each other – but that love did not leap off the page at me. This book is the eighth book in the series, but it can easily be read as a standalone title, I really enjoyed the story and would happily recommend it!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by the publisher*