An earl who can’t be bribed…
Gayle Windham, earl of Westhaven, is the first legitimate son and heir to the duke of Moreland. To escape his father’s inexorable pressure to marry, he decides to spend the summer at his townhouse in London, where he finds himself intrigued by the secretive ways of his beautiful housekeeper…
A lady who can’t be protected…
Anna Seaton is a beautiful, talented, educated woman, which is why it is so puzzling to Gayle Windham that she works as his housekeeper.
As the two draw closer and begin to lose their hearts to each other, Anna’s secrets threaten to bring the earl’s orderly life crashing down-and he doesn’t know how he’s going to protect her from the fallout…
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
I haven’t read many of Grace’s books, but the Windham series has been on my to read list for a bit and I finally decided it was time to start this series. Within reading the first chapter, I was enthralled and I just knew it was gonna be good when Anna bonked Westhaven over the head with a fire poker thinking he was going to take advantage of Morgan. Right then and there I fell in love with this book and I knew this series was going to be very interesting.
“That is a very different sort of housekeeper you have there,” Val said, when the library door had closed behind her. “I know.” Westhaven made a sandwich and checked again to make sure his brother hadn’t pilfered the marzipan. “She’s a little cheeky, to be honest, but does her job with particular enthusiasm. She puts me in mind of Her Grace.” “How so?” Val asked, making a sandwich, as well. “Has an indomitable quality about her,” Westhaven said between bites. “She bashed me with a poker when she thought I was a caller molesting a housemaid. Put out my lights, thank you very much.” “Heavens.” Val paused in his chewing. “You didn’t summon the watch?” “The appearances were deceiving, and she doesn’t know I’d never trifle with a housemaid.” “And if you were of a mind to before,” Val said, eyeing the marzipan, “you’d sure as hell think twice about it now.”
“What have I done, Anna, to earn your use of my title?” “I cannot be sure we are private,” she said then blinked at her tactical error. “And I do not believe such familiarity wise.” “Ah.” He backed away, leaning on the desk, arms crossed. “Shall we discuss this change of heart on your part? You’ve been avoiding me since we got back to Town, and don’t think to tell me otherwise.” “You are no longer ill,” she said, raising her chin. “And you are capable of dressing yourself.” “Barely,” he said with a snort. “So tell me, how am I to court you if you won’t stay in the same room with me? How am I to persuade you to marry me if you maneuver always to have others present when I am about? You aren’t playing fair, Anna.”
I loved every character in this book, minus Stull and Hemsley of course. Westhaven’s interactions with his brothers Dev and Val were priceless at times and they managed to get a few chuckles out of me with their shenanigans and dialog. Percy, the Duke and Windham children’s father, was a meddler, always meddling in his children’s life and affairs, but he was doing what he thought was right, even if it annoys his children. He too, was a bit of a rascal, funny and times too, must be where Westhaven, Dev, and Val gets it from.
“Anna?” She straightened slowly and met his gaze. “Spend the night with me.” Anna detected an odd light in Westhaven’s eyes, combining daring and ferocity, but behind that, a stark vulnerability, as well. “Spend the night with me,” he’d said. Simple, straightforward words with a wealth of complicated meanings. She closed her eyes, trying to brace herself against his request and against her own raging desire to grant it. Not now, she thought desperately. Not now, when they hadn’t even discussed that investigator and the urgent need for her to flee. “I will behave,” the earl said, dropping her wrist. “I’m too damned tired to really… Well, maybe not too tired, but too…” He fell silent and frowned. “It is an unreasonable request and poorly timed. Forget I asked.” Anna opened her eyes and saw he was no longer looking at her. He rose and stretched, then glanced over at her where she stood immobilized, the rag still in her hand. “I’ve offended you,” he said. “I just want… Will you be here in the morning?” He hadn’t wanted to put that question into words, Anna knew. Hadn’t wanted to ask her to be with him in the morning. “I will be here,” Anna said, unable to listen to her common sense screaming to the contrary. “In your bed, if you want me there.”
“He slipped off the bench and took her right hand in both of his as he went down on one knee before her. “I love you,” he said, holding her gaze. “I love you, I cannot foresee the rest of my life without you, and I hope you feel similarly. For only if you do feel similarly will I accept your proposal of marriage or allow you to accept mine.” “You love me?” “For God’s sake.” He was off his knee in an instant, dusting briskly at his breeches. “Why else would I have tried to keep my bloody paws off you when you were just eight and twenty feet down the hall? Why else would I have gone to my father—Meddling Moreland himself?—to ask for help and advice? Why else would I have let you go, for pity’s sake, if I didn’t love you until I’m blind and silly and… Jesus, yes, I love you.” “Westhaven.” Anna reached out and stroked a hand through his hair. “You are shouting, and you mean this.” “I am not in the habit of lying to the woman whom I hope to make my duchess.” That, he saw, got through to her. Since the day she’d bashed him with her poker, he’d been honest with her. Cranky, gruff, demanding, what have you, but he’d been honest. So he was honest again. “I love you, Anna.” His voice shook with the truth of it. “I love you. I want you for my wife, my duchess, and the mother of all of my children.” She cradled her hand along his jaw, and in her eyes, he saw his own joy mirrored, his incredulity that life could offer him a gift as stunningly perfect as the love they shared, and his bottomless determination to grab that gift with both hands and never let go. She leaned into him, as if the weight of his honesty were too much. “Oh, you are the most awful man. Of course I will marry you, of course I love you, of course I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But you have made me cry, and I have need of your handkerchief.” “You have need of my arms,” he said, laughing and scooping her up against his chest. He pressed his forehead to hers and jostled her a little in his embrace. “Say it, Anna. In the King’s English, or no handkerchief for you.” He was smiling at her, grinning like a truant schoolboy on a beautiful day. “I love you,” Anna said. Then more loudly and with a fierce smile, “I love you, I love you, I love you, Gayle Windham, and I would be honored to be your duchess.” “And my wife?” He spun them in a circle, the better to hold her tightly to his chest. “You’ll be my wife, and my duchess, and the mother of my children?” “With greatest joy, I’ll be your wife, your duchess, and the mother of all your children. Now please, please, put me down and kiss me silly. I have missed you so.”
Now Westhaven and Anna, oh I just loved them together. At first, he appeared a bit grouchy and bossy, but with Anna playing nurse to him, his attitude towards her changes and he starts to see in a new light. Even though Anna is his housekeeper – albeit a pretty one – he can’t seem to stay away from her and even goes to the length of asking her to be his duchess, which she declines, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing her at full force. All throughout the book, Westhaven gets put through the wringer of rejection from Anna as she believes she cannot marry him due to her secret and family troubles. But in the end, the poor man gets the answer he so desperately wanted, Anna as his wife and Duchess.
And it was home, he thought, not because he owned the building or paid the people who worked there, nor even because he dwelled here with his brothers. It was home because Anna was here, waiting for him. Waiting to care for him, not expecting him—hell, not really even allowing him—to care for her, solve her problems, and tell her how to go on. I love you, he thought, watching her pull a daisy from the bouquet in the middle of the table and put it in a bud vase on his tray. When she brought the tray to the table and set it down, he put his arms around her waist and pressed his face to her abdomen.
“So you are done proposing?” Dev sipped his drink. “I am. I forgot to propose for the one reason that might have won the prize.” “That being?” “She loves me.” Westhaven smiled wistfully. “She cannot bear to think of the rest of her life without me.” “That reason.” Dev nodded sagely. “I will remember that one, as it would not have occurred to me either. Do you think it will occur to Anna?” “I hope to God it does.” The earl took a long pull of his drink. “I cannot make a move at this point unless she invites it.” “Why not? Why not just ride out there, special license in hand, and lay down the law? You haven’t tried that approach. You can name it after me, the Devlin St. Just Proposal of Marriage Option Number Seven.” “Dev, I fear you are getting a bit foxed.” “A bit, and I am not even the one trying to drown my sorrows. Am I not the best of brothers?” “The very best,” the earl agreed, his smile carrying a wealth of affection.
What I really liked about this book was Anna and Westhaven’s relationship. He was so sweet, caring, and tender with her, it just made my heart melt. He was just a sweet, sweet, man and Anna was one lucky woman to land him. Dev’s story is next, which I am curious about as I enjoyed him quite well in this book, which after I finish this review, I will excitedly plunge ahead into The Solider.