Hugo Eames, Lord Trenton is a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. He grew up in a well to do middle class home and never expected to come home a hero and be awarded a title. Of course, when he came home he was shattered and if not for the Duke of Stanbrook, he might not even be alive.
The Duke of Stanbrook, George Crabbe, opened his home to a group of veterans who needed a place to recuperate. There were five military officers and the widow of an officer who had been tortured and killed within her presence. All were affected by the war and replied on each other for recovery. Each year, they gathered to check on each other and support each other. They call themselves the Survivor Club.
Hugo has decided that this is the year he will get married. His father died a year ago and he became guardian of his younger half sister. Someone will need to sponsor her into middle class society so she can find a husband. Hugo is sure that he can find a middle class woman who would be pleased to marry a wealthy titled man. In fact, in jest he tells his friends that he is off to the beach to find her, only to find a titled lady needing help.
Lady Gwendoline Muir or Gwen as most people call her has decided to take a walk along the beach. She needs a break from the old friend that she has been visiting. She is a widow how has no plans to ever marry again. She’s content with her life. When she slips and sprains her ankle, Gwen is sure she will be able to get back to town some how. She doesn’t want or need the help being offered by the huge man from the Duke’s home.
Hugo isn’t leaving her and after convincing her that her idea of walking anywhere wasn’t going to work, carries her back to the Duke’s house. Finding a woman on the beach was a jest but Hugo finds himself intrigued by this Lady.
Gwen is equally intrigued and equally sure that there should be nothing between Hugo and herself. There are too many differences. They want too many different things. But, can they find enough similarities to overcome the disparities?
If you are a fan of Mary Balogh some of the characters in the book make sound familiar and have you checking to see if this is truly the first book of a new series. Yes, it is a first book of a new series and yes, some of the characters will sound familiar. Gwen has been a minor character is several other books: One Night for Love, A Summer to Remember and several of the Slightly series books. So, with a cast of minor characters from previous books a whole new series is launched with new and interesting characters. The main characters for the books in the Survivor’s Club series make their appearance early in this book while the other known characters appear much later.
The characters though come across as old friend or people whom you would love to meet. Gwen may be part of the ton but she’s also down to earth. Her life hasn’t always been easy. She’s lost a child, a husband and has a permanent limp. Hugo may be a hero but he feels like a failure. So may of his men died due to his orders. He prefers solitude to society and has no idea how to deal with people coming up and expecting a ‘hero”.
The other members of the Survivor’s Club have visible and invisible wounds. One was told he would never walk, another is blind, scars are on most and nightmares are had by all. In actuality, they would all be told they have PSTD but that wasn’t around back then. The reactions of society and the Club members though reflect common problems that returning veterans face regardless of the era.
The romance and love story that played out was inspired. Gwen and Hugo knew things wouldn’t be easy. They were not brought up the same. Their social exposures were not the same. In fact, very little was the same yet they cared enough to try to figure out if it could work. Though Hugo fit well in to ton society could Gwen feel at home with shopkeepers?
I could not put this book down. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next; where this story would lead. It was exiting and yet so very down to earth. It was almost like watching a rose bloom; each layer opening adds more to the whole until there is a burst of color and beauty. I wanted things to come out right, and I knew they would, but had no idea how. There were so many things that could have caused problems. I became attached to the characters and wanted to hold them close. Absolutely fantastic story which left me wanting more.
Of course, this is the first book in a series so I will be getting more and I can’t wait!
In Mary Balogh’s engaging and seductive new novel of drama and romance, a woman comfortable in her solitude allows temptation to free her heart, when a daring war hero shows her how truly extraordinary she is.
Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.
Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?
The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.