Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Survivors, #9
Release Date: February 9, 2021
Nash Pope was a sharpshooter in Draven’s company and lost his sight when debris damaged his left eye – his right eye was spared, but he can barely see anything out of it, just vague shapes, and no color. Nash did not take well to blindness and as a result was sent to Wentmore, one of his father’s lesser estates in Milcroft to convalesce. But Nash did not find peace in the country, instead, he sunk deeper into despair, drinking to forget, and refusing anyone’s help. But it wasn’t until he hit rock bottom and shot one of his friends and threatened to shoot others that his father, the Earl of Beaufort, finally had enough and sent Rowden Payne in a final attempt to straighten Nash out. If Rowden fails, the earl has made it clear that he will have no choice but to commit Nash to an asylum. Angry about his father’s interference and Rowden’s willingness to do his bidding – which includes removing all the liquor from the house and hiring men to make repairs. Nash escapes the house and goes for a walk and ends up getting stuck in the mud. He is wondering how he will get out when he hears a woman singing, a very bawdy song and making effort to not be heard.
Prudence “Pru” Howard is new to the village of Milcroft, her parents are missionaries and have decided to take a post in the far East – without Pru. They leave her in the care of the local vicar, Mr. Higginbotham, and take off without a backward glance. Pru knows they are disappointed with her after she caused a scandal and her own ruin by engaging in an affair in Cairo, but she really didn’t think they would go as far as to abandon her. But Pru is a survivor and determined to be happy, so she does her best to fit in, but sadly, she is not well received and spends much of her time alone. Today she is wandering in the gardens of Wentmore, singing to herself when she notices a man stuck in the mud. She offers to help him, but her efforts are rejected and Nash threatens to have her charged with trespassing. Not one to be deterred, Pru changes her tactic and manages to get Nash back on solid ground. Afterward, Pru learns that Nash is blind and she decides to help him, after all, she has a blind sister and a talent that will help him – she learned “Ecriture Nocturne” or night writing, which was invented to help the French army, but also enables the blind to read and write – and she offers to teach it to him. An offer that he accepts, much to everyone’s surprise.
Pru and Nash begin his lessons and a true friendship develops, she soothes his anxiety and slowly he begins to realize that his life is not over, it has changed, but now the future doesn’t seem as dismal. But he is far from healed and still suffers from flashbacks. Not to mention he still has the threat of being committed hanging over his head. As his feeling for Pru deepens, Nash begins to think that he should let her go, as he can’t give her a future – but Nash grossly underestimates Pru, Rowden, and his own heart. For her part, Pru seems to have found her place in Milcroft and even befriended the curmudgeonly elderly Mrs. Northgate. And even though she doesn’t think they have any chance for a future, she loves him and will do all she can to keep him out of an asylum.
When I finished the last book, The Highlander’s Excellent Adventure, I really didn’t like Nash and wondered if it was even possible to redeem him – so I am thrilled to report – Yes, he can be redeemed, and Yes, I not only forgave him, I fell a little in love with him! This book was so good, it is well-written, interesting, emotional, uplifting, and fun. There are warm love scenes, a villain who gets his due, wonderful secondary characters, redemption, acceptance, forgiveness, a peacock, and a very sweet ending. This is the ninth book in the series, but it can easily be read as a standalone title, I would however recommend reading the previous book in the series because it gives you a glimpse of how far Nash had fallen before his father sent Rowden to him.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own *