Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Westcott, #8
Release Date: June 29. 2021
Harry Westcott’s life took a dramatic turn after the events of the “Great Disaster” when it was discovered that his recently deceased father, the Earl of Riverdale, had in fact committed bigamy when he married Harry’s mother thus rendering him illegitimate and stripped him of all titles and fortune he once had. Harry then made the decision to enlist in the Army, which nearly cost him his life. Gravely injured at Waterloo, he spent two years being treated in Paris before his cousin and his former guardian brought him home to England. He has spent the last four years healing at his childhood home of Hinsford and now, ten years later, he feels if not happy, at least content. Or he did until he spent the holidays with his mother and sisters, who worry about him. His mother insists that he needs someone to cherish, a claim he doesn’t believe is true. But when he returns to Hinsford and tries to pick up the life he believed he was content with, he meets Lydia Travernor, the widow of the town’s vicar.
15 months after the tragic death of her husband, the much-beloved Reverend Isaiah Tavernor, Lydia is ready to put away her mourning and even considers taking a lover. After Isaiah’s death, Lydia made the surprising choice to stay in town rather than return to her father’s house – much to her father and brother’s disapproval. She purchased a cottage and for the last year has lived completely alone, but not that her mourning is over, and she has eased back into society, she admits she is lonely. After being married for six years, she has no desire to give up her freedom, but that doesn’t mean she wants to spend the rest of her life alone. So when Harry offers to escort her home after dinner at a mutual friend’s house, Lydia does the unthinkable and asks Harry if he is lonely, implying they could become lovers.
Almost immediately, she regrets asking and tries to back away from the implication, but Harry is intrigued and convinces her to at least get to know him, so they can decide later what kind of relationship they might have. After spending some time together, Lydia tells him she can’t be his lover, and even being friends might be too much – Harry tries to respect her decision, but neither can seem to walk away. Add into the mix the fact that someone is spying on Lydia AND Harry’s family is planning a 30th birthday ambush and things in this quiet town start heating up!
This was a very sweet, well-written book with extremely likable characters. I have been looking forward to Harry’s story since the very first book and much like his family, I have worried about him. He is a good man, who has had so many bad things happen in his life, that it would be easy to become bitter, but Harry always seemed to be fine and has had the support and love of his family, but even with that support, Harry is not as happy as he would have everyone think, and when Lydia asks if he is lonely, he realizes that he is and sees a kindred spirit in her. This book is filled with emotion, secrets, well-meaning family members, a very cute dog, mild love scenes, peeping toms, and very slow-burning romance that leads to a very satisfying HEA and as a bonus, the reader gets to catch up with the Westcotts as well as their extended family! This is the eighth book in the series and while I recommend reading the books in order for the best reader experience, this book could easily be read as a standalone title.
*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.