STORY: Maggie Windham is the Duke of Moreland’s eldest, but illegitimate, daughter. She leads a retiring, dignified life… until stolen letters bring Maggie to investigator Benjamin Hazlit’s door. When it becomes clear Maggie is being blackmailed, Benjamin becomes determined to find not just the letters, but the way to Maggie’s heart.
REVIEW: What an interesting character Maggie was! You couldn’t help but admire the strong character of this woman who was basically sold to the Duke, who wasn’t even sure that she is his child, yet accepted her as such and loved her as much as all his other children. Only a loving father would be so perceptive about his eldest daughter to say this.
She’s in want of… dreams, I think. My other girls have dreams. Sophie dreamed of her own family, Jenny loves to paint, Louisa has her literary scribbling, and Evie must racket about the property as her brothers used to, but Maggie has never been a dreamer.
It was heart-wrenching to watch the strained relationship between Maggie and the Duchess, who was always aware of Maggie’s feelings towards her and the family, but never knew how to break that last ‘brick’ on the wall that Maggie has meticulously built around her to protect them all from being hurt with the secret she had kept for much too long.
Esther did not hold out her arms to this woman she’d raised. From the posture of Maggie’s spine, a maternal embrace would be politely tolerated, as it had been on the rare occasions Esther had attempted it since the girl had joined the household all those years ago.
I so admired the Duchess while she does her best to hide her frustration with Maggie and tries hard to understand this woman, her adopted daughter.
Esther spoke as gently as she could, considering she was using logic to bludgeon someone she dearly loved.
‘Do you want your child to bear the same burden you have?’ Maggie shook her head, but the tears were coursing down her cheeks unchecked. Esther passed her a serviette, when what she wanted to do was hurl her teacup against the wall.
‘You have another option, Maggie.’ Maggie turned her head an inch to meet the Duchess’ eyes. ‘If I have conceived, I will not do anything to harm our child.’ Our child?
‘Put such notions from your head. For God’s sake, Maggie… to think we’d let you risk yourself, much less… For God’s sake.’
Boys were difficult to raise into young gentleman, but girls… girls were the biggest challenge. Especially girls who, despite every effort to the contrary, seemed to have a thorough knowledge of things too sordid and awful to be contemplated.
Even though Maggie has been brought up with St. Just (the other bastard in the family), she deep down inside had always been uncomfortable and felt that she never quiet belonged to them, although she would never admit it nor would she show it to the other members of the family.
As for the hero of this tale, Benjamin Hazlitt, we’ve met him before and what a complex man he was! A man who is too competent in unearthing all the ton’s secrets, gets himself hired by the woman he finds too attractive and an enigma that he needed to solve.
As Ben and Maggie try to adjust to their new-found acquaintance through the scheme of pretending to be courting, the search is on for her lost reticule, and we are in for a treat. To watch these two slowly coming to realization that their ‘casual acquaintance’ is turning into something neither is looking for or really want, yet at the same time hoping for, is amazing.
There’s no way I could tell you how much I loved the character of Ben, who it turns out has a couple of skeletons in his closet as well. As is Ms. Burrowes’ want, she populates her books with an abundance of secondary characters so interesting and compelling, that I feel she had a very hard time holding some of them back. As is the case with Ben’s sidekick, Archer Holloway; otherwise he just might have stolen the story.
Grace Burrowes can do no wrong. PERIOD! She writes stories that touch my heart and soul, and this tale is no exception. This is her fifth book and if you haven’t yet discovered her, I think it time you did. I highly recommend this entire series, THE HEIR, THE SOLDIER, THE VIRTUOSO, LADY SOPHIE’S CHRISTMAS WISH and this one too. The author does an outstanding job in writing this connected series so well that you don’t need to read them to understand the dynamic of this wonderful and engaging family, yet I highly, HIGHLY recommend you read them all in order because if you’re like me, you will appreciate the Epic feel to the series, and for all of us who love saga’s, this is just up our alley. Come October, Ms. Burrowes has Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight and in December The Bridegroom Wore Plaid will be out. Oh happy dance!
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* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*