Margery has already experienced the love of her life – and was profoundly devastated by its loss. She is absolutely certain that she will never find its equal, and has resigned herself to a life spent caring for others and burying her dreams. A malicious letter changes that. Suddenly, Margery must navigate an impending scandal and begins to question all of her own assumptions about the past.
Margery has no resources of her own. She is desperate to meet the demands of her blackmailer but has nowhere to turn. Enter Daniel. The enigmatic, battle-weary veteran whose social awkwardness is hampering his search for a wife. Daniel is a reluctant duke. He wants a wife for more than duty, but is convinced that his emotional and physical scars are repulsive. He knows that his situation is hopeless. Margery strikes a bargain with him – she will find him a suitable wife in exchange for a fee. The problem is that Margery has captivated him, even though she’s made it abundantly clear she is unavailable.
Margery is far from immune to the allure of the tall, imposing duke with the voice that is “dark and deep, with a delicious timbre that is as rich and mouthwatering” as the chocolate she consumes every morning. His injuries do not bother her- she finds him compelling and irresistible. And Daniel finds it harder and harder to suppress his yearning for the sweet, solicitous, entrancing widow.
I adored this slow burn romance with a scarred hero and a mature widow. I was heartbroken by the fact that Daniel’ s experiences in war have left their stamp on him – his use of a cane and his self -doubt were extremely realistic depictions of the emotional trauma inflicted on soldiers. I was touched by Margery’s realization that love doesn’t just come once, that the heart is open and resilient and has an endless capacity for care.
Their relationship is gentle and consuming and brings the solace and fulfillment they both needed.
These two broken souls who have seen the world trample on their dreams finally surrender to the possibility between them. They are forced to acknowledge it will change the course of their lives, and nothing – not blackmail, not self-doubt, not social expectations- can keep them apart.
Being a grown woman and a single mom, and competently handling your shit on a daily basis doesn’t leave much space in your life for finding love. Especially when the only love you ever really believed in gutted you during a tsunami like obsession that only lasted for seven days and happened fifteen years ago. Especially when you have to battle the demons of your debilitating illness.
When Shane walks into Eva’s life again, the doubts and struggles of her past come roaring back to life. He is the one shining joy and agonizing betrayal she cannot forget. He broke her and doesn’t deserve her forgiveness- much less a redo. But they are still drawn to each other as if they are magnetized. They still strike sparks off each other with a single loaded glance.
Shane has spent fifteen years trying to escape himself. He has spent fifteen years running from the one jubilant moment he had with Eva. He has spent fifteen years self-medicating with alcohol. His addiction is a crutch he is finally conquering, and he sees every decision he made leading to this rare love story.
Whether they are ready to lay down their burdens in each other’s arms, to treasure the acceptance and solace they find in each other, will be the ultimate test.
There are so many things I love about this book:
The incisive, insightful summaries of personal struggle and redemption.
The unflinching portrayal of rising like a phoenix from the debris of a destructive, soul-stealing childhood.
The uncanny truths about mothering in the 21st century.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Girls are given the weight of the world, but nowhere to put it down. The power and magic born in that struggle? It’s so terrifying to men that we invented reasons to burn y’all at the stake, just to keep our dicks hard.”
“Maybe they’d always be disasters- but couldn’t they support each other and grow together? No one was perfect! And maybe that was what real, adult love was. Being fearless enough to hold each other close no matter how catastrophic the world became. Loving each other with enough ferocity to quell the fears of the past. Just fucking being there.”