on August 28th 2017
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Mr. Hugh Grey and Miss Eleanor Broxton share a scintillating liaison the night before he leaves for war in Canada. The memory sustained him for the years he was away. Now, the reputed rake is back, knighted, and he’s got enough money to right the estate his father left in ruins. What would make Sir Hugh Grey’s world perfect is the lovely Eleanor by his side.
Their attraction is sizzling, and the sweet way Hugh is wooing her—a kitten, kisses in the moonlight, and expert help in lighting her dreary work space—makes Eleanor dream of forever with her strapping knight. But she will not risk a scandal, which could ruin his newfound respectability and esteem, especially in her father’s eyes. When Hugh discovers what she’s been hiding, it could drive them apart forever.
It was then that a pair of booted feet caught her attention, and she ceased her grumbling. Staring at the boots, she inferred two things in short order: they were beautifully made top boots, probably from Hoby’s in London; and second, nobody in the immediate vicinity would be wearing such boots. Which caused her to look up at last.
Into the devastatingly handsome face of Hugh Grey. Dazzling dark eyes, prominent nose that screamed arrogance, beautiful male physique boasting wide shoulders and muscled chest. Oh, God, how she had missed him. All six-plus feet of him.
She keeled over onto her haunches and only stopped herself from tumbling completely backwards by planting her palms onto the ground. Was that a chuckle she heard? Before he could help her, she scrambled to her feet.
“Hello, Eleanor,” Hugh said.
She must look a fright, with her unkempt hair and her worn day dress. And here he stood, looking like a plate out of Ackerman’s Repository. Forest green coat, immaculate shirt, silk waistcoat. And those boots.
She said the first thing that came to mind. “Aren’t you a bit overdressed for the country, Sir Hugh?”
He laughed, a deep sound emanating from his chest. And then he said, “Aren’t you missing something?”
A stab of fear hit Eleanor in the gut, and she could barely catch her breath. He knew. How? It was the best-kept secret in all of Surrey. And then she saw that he was talking about Bobby, and she could breathe again. “That’s my pup you’re holding.”
“So I’m told. He was nosing around my property, and it’s not safe for him there. Nails, broken glass, big male feet. Bound to get hurt.” He held the dog out and she gathered him into her arms.
“He’s called Bobby.”
Hugh smiled, watching her. “It suits him.”
Eleanor cast about for something to say. “My condolences on your father’s death.” She was sincere in the sentiment and hoped he didn’t dismiss it as mere pleasantry.
He nodded his thanks, and they stood there awkwardly. He had put his hands behind his back, and his coat pulled snugly against his chest and shoulders. The man could fill out a coat. His tailor must love him—no padding required. And his britches. She shouldn’t even think about his britches. Was she staring? Oh God, she was. Gesturing to the bench, she said, “Will you sit down, Sir Hugh?”
“No, thank you. I’m off to London on business this morning.” He glanced at the cottage. “You are residing here now?”
There was no censure in the question. “No. Working here. I live with my parents.” That was only a half truth. She slept at her cottage many nights. Sometimes it seemed easier. When he didn’t respond, she explained further. “I have a dressmaking business. I work primarily for the London set, although I do have some local custom.” He could make of this what he might, she didn’t care.
Smiling, he said, “I recall your love of creating your own designs. It must be demanding work.”
A breeze ruffled her hair, and she brushed it off her face. “It is. I have two assistants, girls whose families needed the extra coin. They’re good workers, and I try very hard not to take advantage of them.”
“I can’t imagine you would do any such thing.” He nodded toward the cottage, then said, “Is there enough room for the three of you to do your work in such a, well—?”
“Ridiculously small space? Barely, but so far, we’ve managed.”
A brisk nod, and then he said, “I must be off if I’m to make my appointments in town.” He held out his hand, and what else could she do but offer hers? For a moment, she thought he might kiss her fingers, but he simply gave her hand a gentle caress and let go.
“I’ll count the days until we meet again, Eleanor.”
He spun around and was gone before she thought of replying.
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~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
One night that changes so many lives. Miss Eleanor Broxton has had her eyes on Hugh Grey for a while. Hugh Grey is intrigued by Eleanor, but he is leaving the country.
Fast forward 3 years-
Hugh Grey has deep seated mistrust of mothers, a strong dislike of his now dead father and is estranged from his mother and brother, Adam. He is not trying to rebuild both the estate left to him and his reputation, but the reputation is a bit easier since he was knighted for his service to the crown while in the wilds of Canada. He has also returned better off financially. He has not been able to get Eleanor out of his mind.
Eleanor is determined and hard working for a gently born woman. She is running a dressmaking business out of a small cramped cottage on her father’s estate. She has a goal and is struggling to make it. She has a secret that will ruin her if anyone ever finds out.
They are good together, but between his resentful and judgmental temper and her worry over her secret, there are sparks and occasionally flames. Between misunderstandings, a fire, extortion, an abduction, hurt feelings and years of mistrust there is a lovely story of love that had me enthralled from the first page. The was just enough background to paint a brilliant picture of the area and the characters. This is the second in the series and I am delighted to say I plan to read the first in the series to fill in the HEA of Hugh’s brother Adam. I was very grateful for the villains, they added just the right touch of drama and the push that Hugh needed to get past himself to grab the HEA that was staring him in the face.
Ms. Mingle made Hugh wonderfully vulnerable, deeply scarred and yet believable. She created the right amount of tension in Eleanor’s character balancing her secret with the day-to-day struggles of trying to run a business, something Eleanor is not accustomed to. This is a wonderfully balanced and enchanting story that will warm your heart. I look forward to catching up and to the future of this series.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.