This Regency era battle of wits, wills, and the sexes features a wily duke determined to see the succession of his line secured. The duke can’t force his sons to marry, but he can make their lives miserable until they do. Resisting his pressure, each gentleman holds out for true love.
The second book in the series features Devlin St. Just, the duke’s oldest, but illegitimate, son. He arrives at his new estate weary in body and spirit only to find the previous owner’s bastard daughter and her beautiful cousin are his responsibility and making his life almost unbearably complicated.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
It is official, I have fallen madly in love with this series and I am only done with book two. I don’t know why I haven’t read more of Grace Burrows books before as her stories and characters are just beautifully written, that every time when I finish one of her books, I sigh with complete happiness.
“I’m all right.” She smiled up at him. “Or as nearly all right as I can be when you love me witless.” “I do, you know.” He tried to keep the sadness from his voice, from his eyes, from his smile. “Love you.” He dipped his head to kiss her again, covering her mouth just as she inhaled on a gasp. “You must not say such things.” “I mustn’t keep it unsaid, but I won’t belabor the point.” He kissed her again but knew he’d blundered—she certainly hadn’t returned the sentiment, now had she? But she deserved the words, and it had been a relief to say them, even if only the once. It had been sheer relief to acknowledge he loved somebody, that he could love somebody other than the people he’d known since birth. She would always have his gratitude for that, if nothing else.
I loved The Heir with Anna and Westhaven, their story was wonderful and sweet, but I will have to say I love The Solider just as much. Dev was introduced in the first book, which he came across as guarded, protective of his family and a bit orderly and stern to those who didn’t know him so it surprised me greatly with how much I fell in love with this character while reading this book.
“I’ve dropped my drink,” she said, a barely noticeable quaver in her voice. “My apologies, my lord. If you’ll just…” “Hold still.” He hadn’t meant to be giving a command, exactly. “If you move, you might step on the glass, and it will slice your foot open.” He hoisted her easily against his chest, one arm under her knees, the other around her shoulders. “Arms around my neck,” he growled, but rather than taking her to the door, he moved across the room to sit in a large, overstuffed wing chair. “You can put me down,” she said, and in his arms, her spine was stiff, her body rigid. “Soon,” he replied, arranging her legs over the arm of the chair. “This will do for now.” “It will not do,” she protested, but she put her arms around his neck, and St. Just would have sworn he felt her nose graze his collarbone. As the rain pounded against the windows and the wind rattled the panes, the earl settled them in the chair. His hand moved in slow sweeps along her back, and his chin rested against her temple. He was stealing comfort from her under the guise of protecting her feet; he knew it; she likely knew it, as well.
He is the oldest son of the Duke from a former liaison, so he isn’t legitimate and therefore, he cannot inherit the title and is a seasoned solider and has seen the many horrors at war. He cannot stand the titled nobility, her prefers the quieter solitude of life and is often plagued by nightmares – flashbacks – and cannot abide storms. Even thought he came back from France and Spain uninjured, he is severely scarred on the inside, he has known no peace until Emma and Winnie stumbles into his life. By offering a family setting and a comforting loving touch, Dev finds peace and manages to keep his demons at bay with having these two in his life.
“Now calm down and let me assure you Winnie is not going to end up like your mother and aunt.” “Not if I can help it.” “She’s not,” the earl went on as if Emmie hadn’t spoken, “because you are going to be my countess, and Winnie will have to find her own earl.” “Oh, St. Just.” Emmie groaned. “You’re demented if you think I’d marry you after this.” “Not demented.” He kissed the top of her head. “Just determined, but I know for form’s sake you will argue, so I won’t propose this minute. I am a reasonable man, most of the time anyway, but also quite tired and utterly content, thanks to you. Just hush, Emmie Farnum, and let me hold you while you sleep.”
I never expected Dev to be so fatherly and attentive as he was with Winnie. I loved how he conversed with her, how he blew raspberries playfully on her neck and just plainly dotted on her. But most of all, I love how he was with Emmie. He may be a touch ex solider, but my, was he tender and sweet with her. Always offering her comforting hugs while he soothes her with neck and back rubs, and how he loved to hold and cuddle her when either one needed a comforting embrace. HE was a real down right cuddle but which I thought was so cute and heart warming. I just loved the man.
“I do not ever want you to go back to your room or your cottage or your vicar, Emmie Farnum. I thought you agreed to give us this night.” She nodded, and he saw she was shy and uncertain rather than looking for a way to leave him so soon. “So.” He put one knee on the bed. “You’ll hold me now?” “Haven’t I been holding you?” Emmie looked hesitant but flipped the covers up so he could join her under the blankets. “There’s holding”—he eased down beside her—“and there’s holding.” He pillowed his head on the slope of her breast and brought one arm and a leg across her body. “Tell me if I’m too heavy for you.” Emmie slipped her arms around him, resting her cheek on the tangled mess she’d made of his hair. “You’re not too heavy.”
She was home and peace and safety and light. She was what every weary soldier had ever vainly sought in the arms of a whore, a tavern brawl, or a tankard of ale. She was the laughter of children and the reason old men would smile in remembrance. She was his heart, his soul, his sanity, and having finally found her, he was never, ever going to let her go.
I will say I guessed, or I should say I felt I knew what Emmie’s secret was about when I hit the 50-60% mark, so I am glad she came clean in the end. But I do wish there was an epilogue with a glimpse into their future as I am big on mu books having their epilogues, but I guess or I dare say I hope I will see updates of them in the next books of the Windham series. After finishing this, I will plow into Val’s story, which it has me curious about him as he was a bit humorous all throughout these books, plus his papa, the Duke of Moreland, was lead to believe Val swings the other way – to deter the Duke’s pesky matchmaking meddling – when he doesn’t pursue any eligible’s of the opposite gender , so I can’t wait to meet his lady love and perhaps too, fall in love with another male Windham character again.
“So what do you want?” St. Just asked quietly. Winnie looked away, reminding him poignantly of Emmie in the midst of difficult discussions. “What do you want, princess?” he asked again. “I want…” Winnie’s little shoulders heaved, and still St. Just waited. “I want Emmie to s-s-stay.” She hurled herself across the mattress, sending her writing implements flying in her haste to throw herself into St. Just’s arms. “Don’t let her go away, please,” Winnie wailed. “I’ll be good, just… Make her stay. You have to make her stay.” He wrapped her in his arms and held her while she cried, producing a handkerchief when the storm seemed to be subsiding. All the while he held her, he thought of Her Grace raising ten children, ten little hearts that potentially broke over every lost stuffed bear, dead pony, and broken toy. Ten stubborn little chins, ten complicated little minds, each as dear and deserving as the last, and all with intense little worlds of their own. Ye Gods. And what to say? Never lie to your men, St. Just admonished himself… “I don’t want her to go, either,” St. Just murmured when Winnie’s tears had quieted to sniffles. “But Emmie has her business to run, Win. She won’t go far, though, just back to the cottage, and we can visit her there a lot.” Like hell. “She isn’t going to the cottage,” Winnie replied with desperate conviction. “She’s going to marry Vicar and his brother will die and she’ll be rich, but far, far away. Cumbria is like another country, farther away than Scotland or France or anywhere.” “Hush,” St. Just soothed, fearing he was about to witness the youngest female crying jag of his experience. “Emmie hasn’t said anything to me, Winnie, and I think she’d let me know if she were going somewhere.” She had, however, told him to find another governess by Christmas at the latest. “She’s going,” Winnie said, heartsick misery in her tone. “I know it, but she’ll listen to you if you tell her to stay.” “I can’t tell her, Win.” St. Just rose to turn back the bedcovers. “I can only ask.” “Then ask her,” Winnie pleaded as she scooted between the sheets. “Please, you have to.” “I will ask her what her plans are, but that doesn’t affect your needing and deserving a governess. Understand?” When Winnie’s chin jutted, he dropped onto the bed and met her eyes. “We haven’t hired anybody yet, we haven’t even interviewed anybody yet, and we won’t expect you to tolerate anybody who isn’t acceptable to both Emmie and me, all right?” “I don’t want a governess,” Winnie said, but her tone was whimpery, miserable, and hopeless. “I understand that, and I only want you to have a governess you’re going to like, Winnie. All I’m asking is that you give somebody a chance to help you learn, whether Emmie’s here, back at the cottage, or married to the Vicar.” “I love Emmie,” Winnie said, reaching for Mrs. Bear. “I love Emmie, and I don’t want her to go, and I don’t want her to marry Vicar.” “Neither do I, princess.” St. Just blew out her candle. “Neither do I.”