Love a Lady at Midnight by Charlie Lane
Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: The Cavendish Family, #4
Release Date: February 10, 2023
For six long years, Jackson Cavendish has loved Miss. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Smith, the woman who stowed away on the ship he and his uncle were on and became a vital part of their research team. But try as he might to win her, Gwen has always kept Jackson at a distance and refuses to drop her shields. Jackson refuses to give up and it seems like his perseverance has paid off when they attend a masked ball and share a night of passion that came straight from his dreams. But the next day, Gwen pretends as if nothing happened and now, months later, Jackson is at his wit’s end – can he break through the walls Gwen hides behind or is he wasting his time? He asks his cousins’ husbands and is advised to walk away and let her come to him. Jackson is not sure he can do that, but he will try, and where better to do that than at his family home? The home he hasn’t visited since his parents unexpectantly died in a carriage accident. Maybe is it time to walk away and time to face his loss. He tells his uncle that he is going home to work on the book his father was writing, but never finished, and to his surprise, his uncle decides to join him and wants to bring along with his wife, Jackson’s young twin brothers, his youngest daughter, and Gwen. Jackson steels himself to have her in his home, determined to ignore his desire to chase her. At least that is his plan.
Gwen has secrets and has been hiding with the Cavendishes for the past six years, and contrary to what he believes, she has deep feelings for Jackson, but marriage is out of the question because her past would ruin his family. She knows that giving in to the passion that is barely contained between them was a mistake, but she can’t regret it. She will cherish the memory of that night forever. When they return to London, she seeks out an old friend and learns that her past is catching up to her, in a panic, she tells Jackson’s Uncle Henry, Baron Eaden that she wants to leave his employ and asks for his help in finding a new position. He is surprised, but agrees to help and insists that she come with them to Jackson’s estate, Seastorm Manor. She is surprised by Jackson’s behavior and finds herself wanting to tell him why she can never be his wife. But when her secret becomes impossible to keep any longer, she will have to decide if she is willing to trust in the love Jackson claims to have for her and the promise of happily ever after or will she do what she has always done and run away?
This is a new author to me and I didn’t realize that this title is towards the end of the series, so these characters have an established past, and reading the series in order probably would have enhanced my reading experience. But the author did give a bit of backstory, so I didn’t feel completely lost. I loved Jackson, he is such a darling man, so kind, so patient, so willing to understand, and has so much love for a woman who has constantly held him at bay. Gwen was a bit harder for me to like and while I understood her scandal, I didn’t understand her fear of retribution – she was not to blame, so I cannot even comprehend why she was so scared of being found. Once she decided to let go of her fear and trust Jackson, she blossomed – I don’t know, maybe that was the author’s intent all along – but it worked and I finally began to believe she was worthy of the love Jackson had for her. The story has secrets, steamy love scenes, nasty neighbors, emotional healing, a cat, inquiring minds, surprising twists, and finally a very endearing HEA complete with an epilogue. I did enjoy this story, but I was disappointed that the author didn’t seem to know or understand honorific titles, nor did she seem to know how untitled married women were addressed, but to be fair; this is just a pet peeve of mine, and doesn’t really have any bearing on the story. I think this is the fourth book in the series and while I felt that I would have benefited from reading the books in order, I was able to follow the story without a problem.
*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.*