Wounded in the Napoleonic wars, to say that Joshua Wolfe has a chip on his shoulder and insecurities up the wazoo would be an understatement. Haunted by the war, he serves as a groundskeeper for his cousin the Duke of Armitage. Despite his nobility and his distinguished service, he doesn’t see himself as worthy of any woman’s love – let alone the one woman whose very presence makes his heart race. Gwyn Pryde has secrets and traumas of her own. The daughter of the Duke and a sister of one she’s got a dowry, connections, and pedigree that should make her a diamond of the first water. Except she’s 30 years old. Unusual for a debutante. But she has her reasons. Good reasons. Reasons which rise up when a former flame rears his hateful head. Threatened and worse, her brother hires Joshua to act as her bodyguard. But will being so close together managed to fall the ice that surrounds both Gwyn and Joshua’s hearts…
I read the previous book in this series and adored it. Absolutely adored it. I have to say that this book is also as good if not better. There’s a lot here that I love and despite it referencing things that happened in a novella which was put in an anthology (don’t do that, folks) I didn’t feel lost. You don’t have to have read either the previous book or the novella to know what was going on, but I did feel like I was missing a piece of the puzzle because I hadn’t read the novella.
First off, apparently histrom with disabled/mentally ill heroes/heroines is my kryptonite. I’m not going to apologize for it, but it – along with time travel – are pretty much guaranteed to get me to sit up and go YES!!!!!!!
This is a fabulous story.
I absolutely adored Joshua as a character. He had just the right amount of hurt the right amount of pain he never dipped into jerk territory… But skirted the edges a few times. I appreciated that there was no magical cure for Joshua‘s disability. It’s important to have disabled heroes and heroines. As well as those who have mental illness, which Joshua very clearly did have PTSD even if the terminology didn’t exist at the time. His ability to observe and react to situations wasn’t diminished but at the same time his disability did affect how he did things. It’s nice to see that.
Gwyn was also a good character. She had her own traumas to get over so that they could work together and end up together. There’s some pretty frank stuff that happens with her which absolutely has to be warned for but they’re also hella spoilery so I’ll put them after the rating and links but before the tags so if you want to skip the spoilers you can. They are telegraphed throughout the text, but if they’re a trigger you’ll need a warning… The story itself was engaging. I definitely followed along with where the author was taking me. And there’s just enough hints to the overarching plot for it to be enjoyable. But not so entwined that this book can’t be read on its own. I loved it
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Okay Triggers and Spoilers:
CW: Discussion of Miscarriage, CW: Prior Miscarriage, CW: Gaslighting, CW: Emotional abuse, CW: period appropriate sexism, CW: prior dubious consent, CW: abandonment, CW: period appropriate ableism, CW: body trauma
If you need more specific info you can ask me and I’ll tell you.