Twenty years ago, Beatrice Copland committed a reckless and foolish act of deceit that she’s certain ruined the life of a man she’d fallen in love with and led to his wife’s death. Now serving as companion to the stern Lady Bournaud, she leads a quiet life and attends to her duties as a kind of penance. But Lady Bournaud, trying to make amends for her own selfish ways, is opening her country estate to a few select guests for the holidays—including the man Beatrice wronged so many years ago.
Sir David Chappell spent nearly two decades coming to terms with the haunting memory of his wife’s death. When he receives an invitation to Lady Bournaud’s for the Christmas season, he’s reluctant to go at first, but he’s sure the time away in Yorkshire will be a welcome change from London. Once there, he’s immediately captivated by the youthful beauty and genuine compassion of the lady’s companion, Beatrice Copland—all the while sensing that he’s met her before.
Even as David pursues her and Beatrice realizes she’s still powerfully attracted to the man, she must gently rebuff his advances for fear that her damning secret will come to light and reopen his old wounds. And while Lady Bournaud watches, happily scheming to make matches for all her guests, it may take more than a Christmas miracle for David to free Beatrice’s conscience, and her heart, at last.
From Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Beatrice Copeland is companion to Lady Bournaud, an ageing widow who has realised she is in the last years of her life, so has decided to throw a last “Hurrah” in terms of a Christmas House party. Lady Bournard has identified 4 twenty-somethings that she hopes will form a certain attachment. She also invites Sir David as a counterpoint to Beatrice, without realising that Beatrice and David have “history”.
Things dont go according to plan, when the younger quartet refuse to settle into their prescribed pairs.
Lord Vaughan is being pressurised by his father to get married and is threatened with being sent to the colonies (Canada to be precise) if he doesn’t get hitched soon. He cares little for whether he marries the right woman or not, simply that he marries someone of suitable breeding.
On paper at least, Lady Silvia is the right candidate, titled, from the same social circle etc. Unfortunately, she has eyes only for the Reverend Mark Rowland, an impoverished vicar who has yet to start out properly in his own parish.
Verity Allen is a wild Canadian, having been brought up in the rugged frontier being the only girl in the family. She’s loud, climbs trees, rides horses like a man, takes risks, is unladylike, unfashionable, and utterly suitable for Lord Vaughan if he would only take the hint that Lady Silvia cant stand him.
It’s not long before David realises there is a certain history with Beatrice that he needs and wants to find out why she is so cold towards him, even though they both know there’s a certain chemistry. Through some flashbacks we find out a little more of what went on 20 years previously and why both Beatrice and David have some personal hurts. David has come to terms with the past, and this allows Beatrice to move away from her guilt.
Whilst Beatrice and David are the centre couple, there’s enough time spent with the other two couples to keep the story balanced. Lady Bournaud is kept safely in the background, prone to napping by the fire and taking meals in her room for her to only make the occasional appearance.
The ending was different enough in that it wasn’t immediately tied up cleanly, meaning that not everyone got what they wanted. However, there was a last gift that brought it all together, which was a lit more realistic that the usual straight to “happily ever after”.
What I’m liking about the author is that as per her previous two books Married to a Rogue and The Vicount’s Valentine, this book covers older lovers (over 40s), who are meeting their proper loves later in life (sometimes having loved and lost them years before)
About the Author:
Donna Lea Simpson is a nationally bestselling romance and mystery novelist with over twenty titles published in the last eleven years. Besides writing romance and mystery novels and reading the same, Donna has a long list of passions: cats and tea, cooking and vintage cookware, cross-stitching and watercolor painting among them. She lives in Canada