Heat Factor: It gets a little warm
Character Chemistry: I wanted them together but couldn’t get over the sad
Plot: High drama
Overall: Ethan makes me depressed
Ethan Standish is the Duke of Dunmoor, and he has become a recluse in his country house. He has some pretty serious mental health issues – stemming from some pretty traumatic experiences, sure, but it makes for a dark hero. He’s also the younger son who wasn’t meant to inherit and seems relatively unwanted in general. As the younger son, he joined the navy as a physician (because medicine is his passion, of course) and nearly died as a result, hence (part of) the trauma.
Cat Kircaldy is the widowed governess of the deceased Earl MacLendon, who used to be the dearest friend of the duke before a falling out over the Earl’s sister. She shows up unannounced on Ethan’s doorstep because he’s been named guardian of the Earl’s children. And she’s pretty sure that the children are in danger after a series of unfortunate events in the MacLendon family.
As it happens, Ethan wants revenge on the man who caused his trauma in the navy, and Cat is able to provide it because she (or really, her husband) is the reason all this grief has been visited on the MacLendon family. Cat’s husband was a sailor on the ship of the traitorous captain who was responsible for Ethan’s traumatic experience, and he kept logs of all of the traitorous doings of the ship. The captain has discovered this and is trying to save his own skin. One would think that this mystery/adventure story would be primary, but it’s not.
Cat immediately impresses Ethan by refusing to leave the estate. She’s simply desperate for a home for the children she’s come to love and has no other options than holding firm, but it starts them off on the right foot. Relatively early on, they travel to Scotland to pick up the children and when Cat is compromised, Ethan declares that she is the duchess. Because Cat does not dispute this and acts as the duchess, and because they are in Scotland, they are married. Ethan is pretty insistent on being married to Cat, but she has reservations, in part because she’s not his social equal (and Scottish) and in part because she’s been happily married and she wants that with Ethan but doesn’t think she can get it. They agree that they’ll be married as long as it takes Ethan to get his revenge and then they’ll get divorced and Cat will get the children and a farm of her own.
Ooooooooooooooooookay. Let’s talk about getting a divorce in 1727. It’s ridiculous.
Also Ethan’s mother is really awful, but because he’s isolated himself on his estate and she lives in London, she is a powerhouse in society, which means that she can manipulate everything just the way she wants it. She’s done this to him before (MacLendon’s sister), and it’s part of what drove him to seclusion. And she doesn’t even care. What we’re left with is that Ethan is totally damaged, and it would be really difficult to make this story happy even with the happily ever after.
I guess everyone deserves a story, and this wasn’t poorly written. In fact, Connors pulled together a number of dangling threads at the end really well. I was just bummed nearly the entire time I was reading it.
Buy Now: Amazon