on September 19th 2017
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A Proud Beauty
Society beauty Sylvia Stafford is far too pragmatic to pine. When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood…until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life—and her former love.
A Scarred Beast
Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited—and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.
A Second Chance
A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily ever after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
I’m not much of risk taker when it comes to reading. I tend to stick to my tried and true favourite authors. But every once in a while, I get the courage to push the envelope a bit and pick an author I haven’t read. In this case, it paid off in spades and I now have a new author to add to my tried and true list.
Sylvia Stafford had expected to marry once. During her season, she’d had several suitors. One she’d especially considered herself in love with. A dashing cavalry officer. But her father, a habitual gambler, had lost all they had and he had taken his own life. After her father’s death, Sylvia had been bustled back to the country. She’d never heard from friends or family again. And the dashing cavalry officer she’d thought had returned her affections, had never answered a single letter. Letters in which she had exposed her heart and revealed her true feelings. Now she was a governess to a merchant’s family. Poor as a church mouse and tainted by the scandal of her father.
Colonel Sebastian Conrad, Earl of Radcliffe, had expected to return home from India. He had not expected to have his face nearly cleaved in two, leaving him scarred and sightless in one eye. He’d not expected to return to England to find his elder brother and his father dead, making him the new Earl. Nor had he expected to be rejected by the first and only woman he’d ever loved. Memories of Sylvia Stafford had helped him survive the horrors of war, but she’d never written to him and his letters to her had been returned. Bitter and overwrought, he’d become a recluse in his country estate in Hertfordshire.
When Sebastian’s sister, Julia, tracks Sylvia down, begging her to return to Hertfordshire with her, Sylvia refused. But when Julia implied that Sebastian was so distraught, she feared he may take his life, Sylvia was compelled to go. She had loved him once and had thought he’d loved her. If her presence could alleviate some of his pain, she must go. But her reception upon arriving was not what she’d expected. Sebastian had not just changed physically. There was something primitive and dangerous about him now. In spite of that, Sylvia had to fight the urge to go to him and kiss him. But Sebastian didn’t want her there. He seemed intent on putting her in her place. Sebastian was angry with Sylvia. Her rejection had unmanned him. He wanted to punish her for it. Though her proud and vibrant exterior had been replaced with one more prim and respectful, she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He wanted to hate her and at the same time, he wanted to take her in his arms. Though they were both scarred emotionally from the past and distrustful of each other, could they take the risk and accept the second chance that fate was offering?
I’m a sucker for second chance romance. And if that romance includes a wounded hero and a vulnerable heroine, all the better. Sebastian and Sylvia were still virtually strangers. Though they’d fallen in love, in truth they’d only known each other a matter of weeks before being separated. In their three years apart, they’d become two very different people from two very different worlds. Their distrust of each other resulted from misunderstandings and family interference. I could understand their hesitance. They truly had no history together so I could identify with their wariness. Sylvia thought Sebastian didn’t care for her. That he was repelled by her father’s suicide and how brazen she’d been in her letters. Sebastian thought her only interest in him now was for his title. Why else would she want someone so disfigured? They were both deeply in love but had resigned themselves to a life of loneliness. I thoroughly enjoyed the efforts of Sebastian’s sister and valet in bringing these two together. Their conniving was amusing and brought a lightness to the story. I loved watching Sebastian and Sylvia’s relationship come full circle and truths slowly being revealed. The pacing of the entire story was delightful and made the ending that much more rewarding. And when Sebastian finally responded to Sylvia’s letter, I teared up. So romantic! A sweet, emotional, and hopeful story. I look forward to reading more from this author.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.