Frances Fowlkes gives us a story of two people who are afraid of what others think, say and believe about them. One is running from a horrific tragedy and hiding behind scars both inside and out, while the other is hiding from restrictive social rules. Wonderful characters that once are allowed to let go of their bindings and show who they are, their lives find the happiness they have been seeking.
The Earl of Amhurst, Simon Devere, has been hurt by three beautiful women in his life with the last, his mistress, having caused the most damage. Accused of murdering his mistress, Simon lived with the gossip for five years before evidence cleared him and allowed him to assume his title. Gossip was not the only source of his pain. Left with facial scars and loss of an eye combined with the rumors, Simon is faced with trouble finding a suitable bride. Having had his life brought to this point by beautiful women, Simon wishes a homely wife that will cause him no more problems. Upon finding that his own brother wants his title he must act quickly to find a wife and produce an heir to secure his title. Asking his friend, a confirmed bachelor to set up a selection of women, Amhurst begins his hunt. Unknown to Amhurst, he will meet his predecessor’s daughter, Lady Henrietta Beauchamp, a distant relative and she will rule his head and heart even though he fights being with her.
Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is an intelligent, caring young woman with knowledge most young women do not have. Henrietta loves plants and using herbs to heal. She would much rather commune with them than people due to her own impediment. She loves the gardens and home and wants to live in it forever as it holds many memories of her late father. Determined to do so, Lady Henrietta along with her Mother and sisters put into motion a plan for Simon to marry her and no other.
Simon convinces himself that Henrietta is not for him, but cannot seem to stay away from her. They are thrown together through circumstances neither can control. Henrietta aids him with herbal reliefs for his headaches and inability to sleep. Love blossoms between the two even though neither can admit it.
Soon, the women are falling ill and sabotage is evident, but who is trying to harm the women and to what end? Simon must also deal with his jealousy as his friend shows too much interest in Henrietta while trying to interest Simon in another of the candidates. What happened to being a confirmed bachelor? Henrietta falls victim to several humiliating incidents in front of Simon and begins to doubt she can gain his interest. When she is offered marriage to another due to her inappropriateness to being paired with the Earl, Henrietta leaves Simon and the estate.
When Simon discovers Henrietta has left the estate, he must make a decision to go after her or let her go. If he lets her go, will he choose the woman whose father can gain him access to the ton and make him more acceptable to society? Will his friend marry Henrietta?
I received this book through Netgalley for an honest review. I enjoyed reading this story and how the characters developed through their painful pasts to love and trusting others as well as themselves. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Regency historical fiction.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1WcHjbd