Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: Fallen, #3
Release Date: May 26, 2021
When shortly after inheriting, Hugo Ravensthorpe, the fourth Duke of Cumbria learns that much of his family’s wealth came from a plantation with slaves that they owned in British Guiana until slavery was abolished 50 years ago– he is appalled and sicken. He cannot believe his grandfather owned slaves and refuses to live in a house built from the profits of that slavery. With no idea how to right the wrongs his grandfather made, he leaves Keisley Park and sets out for London to see his sister Emily and hopefully figure out what he can do to make things right. He stops for the night at a small inn and witnesses a man harassing a lone woman and intervenes by claiming to be her husband.
Widow Beatrice “Bea” Fenton is shocked and a bit wary when a handsome stranger saves her from a man bent on seduction who won’t take no for an answer. She invites Hugo to join her for dinner and they enjoy a pleasant meal, he doesn’t tell her he is a duke and is vague about his reason for traveling to the village, she reveals she is the owner of a dairy farm and has come to the village to attend the fair, hoping to find someone her mother knew years ago. After dinner, Hugo tries to get a room and learns because of the fair the inn is booked – now it is Bea’s turn to save him and insists he shares her room. Once they are alone, she makes an offer – one night of passion. An offer Hugo tries to decline, but Bea assures him she is barren and that after their night together, they will part ways with no obligations or regrets. He finally agrees and they share an incredible night together are reluctant to part the next morning. Hugo offers to spend the day with her and help her find the man she is looking for – an offer she willingly accepts. After a day spent with no success, they return to the inn ready to part ways when the innkeeper gives them a lead and their “one night” extends to two and after following the lead, which ends with Bea getting a surprising shock and Hugo sharing his shameful secret and his true identity, they spend a third night together.
The next morning, he proposes, she refuses and they part ways. He returns to London with a broken heart and a plan to right the wrongs of his grandfather. She returns to her farm equally heartsore – but sure she made the right decision. Weeks have passed when she learns his address by chance and writes to him. He takes it as an invitation to visit her and decides that this time, he will woo her and prove that they belong together.
This was not your run-of-the-mill historical romance, it was a well-written story with a distinct political message wound around the romance of an unlikely couple. The book started out interesting but after they parted ways, it became a bit dull and Bea’s refusal to marry Hugo dragged on for too long. And then there is the current trend of authors superimposing 21st-century morals and ideals into the past and ignoring the actual morals and laws of the era. This is the third book in the series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title with no problem. There are some things that might be considered triggers to some readers, such as infertility, slavery, reparations, and illegitimacy. I believe the author did her best to handle these issues with consideration and sensitivity, but if these things upset you, be aware that they are prevalent in the story.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *