‘Surrender to the Earl’ by Gayle Callen

gc stteSTORY: She wanted a favor, not a fiancé.

Audrey Blake’s impromptu plan-asking a visitor to help her take ownership of her rightful property-is unraveling in spectacular fashion. Robbed of her sight by a childhood fever, Audrey has been kept in virtual seclusion by her family. And now the enigmatic Robert Henslow, Earl of Knightsbridge, has complicated her scheme to gain independence, insisting they pretend to be engaged.

Duty brought Robert to Audrey’s doorstep. As for what makes him propose marriage…it might be guilt. Compassion. Or something far more urgent and unexpected. Their counterfeit union was supposed to be for Audrey’s benefit. Yet it’s Robert who yearns to prove to the intriguing Audrey how much they both have to gain by making it real-and convincing her to submit to the most blissful passion

REVIEW: This second book of the Brides of Redemption trilogy in which three friends and soldiers who are returning to England from India in a need of redemption after an incident that all three were involved, we watch Robert Henslow, Earl of Knightsbridge meet his true love.

I loved the first story, Return of the Viscount [my review is here] and I was really looking forward to this one.

You know how some books lean more to either heroes or heroines, meaning we have more of a character development of one and not enough of the other? Well in this one I was pleasantly surprised that both Audrey and Robert were equally represented by the author as she did an outstanding job in characterizing and fully developing both characters to such extent that I saw and felt them and their emotions very clearly.

It’s Robert’s turn to try and redeem himself to a widow of a man that he feels responsible for dying in that incident in India, two years ago. He is willing to do anything to help young widow of Martin Blake and upon meeting her and offering his help he’s shocked to learn of the way that Audrey’s family is treating her and her blindness.

Audrey Blake was badly used by her husband whose reason for attaching himself to a blind woman was getting his hands on her dowry so he can purchase his commission to go to India, which he did after their wedding night, leaving his bride with her family that despises her blindness and has Audrey as a virtual prisoner within the walls of their home. No wonder she sees Robert as her only means of escape!

However, our hero watches her closely and proposes they get to know each other a bit better before he agrees to her plan of helping her gain her independence by taking her to a property that she inherited.

Robert is pleasantly surprised to see that she’s more than capable of running a household, and upon realizing that the only reason her family is tolerating her is that ability of doing all that work for her father’s house, he decides to help her out. I thought the author did a magnificent job in setting the pace for these two to slowly become acquainted and watching them develop affection for each other was truly special and poignant.

I truly enjoyed the slow pace of this delightful tale, and am looking forward to the next book. Hope you give it a go.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy from the publisher

‘Return of the Viscount’ by Gayle Callen

ROTV GCSTORY: Her marriage of convenience seems far too convenient . . .

Desperation drove Cecilia Mallory to seek a union with a stranger—one who would wed her sight unseen and grant her full access to her inheritance with no expectations whatsoever. She anticipated, perhaps, an older, undesirable, equally desperate husband—never the young, vibrant, and devastatingly attractive man who answered her call. What could such a man really be after?

Unknown to Cecilia, Viscount Michael Blackthorne, a soldier and gentleman, owes a debt of honor to Lady Cecilia’s father, and granting her unusual request to wed seemed a worthy way to repay it. But an unseen threat perilously close at hand is convincing Michael that his true responsibility is to protect the beautiful, warm-hearted lady he has married . . . the woman he is unexpectedly coming to love.

REVIEW: As book blurbs go, the above one is just perfect in setting up this story of redemption, respect and love.

Ms. Callen gave a wonderful characterization of two very strong people who knew what they wanted out of life very early on in their lives. Both had carried much of the baggage passed on to them from their respective parents and were determined never to repeat the mistakes their parents made, and in doing so made sure to stay away from situations that would have them marry.

At eighteen, Lord Michael Blackthorne enlisted in the army and was shipped out to India because his father had insisted he marry for the wrong reasons. Going against the wishes of the man he had no respect for, young Michael vowed to advance himself not by purchasing his commission but by hard work and sheer determination to prove to his family that he is a man of honor. While there he meets our heroine’s father who takes him under his wing and teaches him to become that man.

Cecilia Mallory had a good childhood even though it was visited with some tragedy that had profoundly altered the course of her life. As a very impressionable girl, she was forced by her mother to do some things that made her uncomfortable and in some way that contributed to her decision not to marry, even though as she grows into a woman, her beauty and dowry are very much sought after. After the death of her father in India, she decides to reach out to her father’s protégé and friend, Lieutenant Michael Blackthorne in hopes that he would be able to ease the pain of her loss.

As the two become ‘pan-palls’ if you will, they come to respect and understand each other well enough for Cecilia to feel comfortable in proposing to Michael a marriage by proxy and in name only for the reasons of obtaining her financial freedom from her guardian. Michael knows in his heart that he owes a debt to her father and he agrees to her proposal out of that duty. Neither is aware of Lady Destiny’s plan for them both.

This was such an easy read and I credit that to a very interesting plot, involving some mystery of who is willing to risk everything by ending Cecilia’s life. The mark of a good plot is when the reader decides she [that’s me] knows who the villain is, than second guesses it through the end of the story.

Then there are some secondary characters, such as heroine’s brother Oliver and friend Penelope that made me want to shake them all into tomorrow!  

If you’re Gayle Callen fan, this is no brainer  and you’ll no doubt get this book, [believe it or not, this is one author that now I have every book she's written, but have yet to read some of her earlier series] which by the way is the first in her new trilogy, The Brides Redemption which is about “What happens when three soldiers who need to be redeemed meet three women who need to marry?” I’m looking forward to reading the second book Surrender to The Earlwhich will be out in June 2013. If you’ve never read this author, I’d say you’re missing on some well written, well thought out and well plotted stories which accompanied with a bit of action,  witty dialogue and great characterization, make up for wonderful and easy read.

*Book provided by AVON through EDELWEISS.