Can you both dread and anticipate the same book? Yes, you can when you’re getting the last book in a favorite series. Naturally my dread is for the fact that I must say good-bye to a series and cast of characters that I have loved, but the anticipation came from who was the last of the Survivor’s Club to get his story. Not just a few times, I wondered about the strong, wise, gentle, and patient man who was the backbone of this group, older and with his share of heartbreak and grief. And, who was to be his heroine? The story that unfolded was a gentle marriage of convenience that became so much more for which has become something of a stock in trade for this author.
As I’ve just said, this is the final book in The Survivor’s Club series. While some of the books in the series can be taken out of order or as standalones, this one leans more toward needing to be read behind the others just because it not only gives the latest pair’s romance, but wraps up the series and brings it full circle with a huge cast of characters that would confuse a new reader to the series.
The story opens with George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, waving good-bye to the last of his guests after the London wedding of his friends and realizing that all the Survivors are now married, found love, and have families- that is all except him. But George has been considering what to do about his loneliness and daringly sets his plan into action.
Dora Debbins is firmly on the shelf. She is content with her cottage and teaching music to people in the village. If she looks wistfully at her sister’s happy marriage and wonders what would her life be like if their mother hadn’t run off with a man and the scandal resulting in divorce hadn’t ruined her chance to have a season, well that just makes her normal. But her wistful dreams are interrupted by the man who as starred in her daydreams for over a year with the most outlandish and out of the blue proposal. Dora wed a duke in a big society wedding?
George and Dora prepare for their nuptials both a bit shy and both secretly happy and worried that something bad will come to mar things. George holds a secret that even his closest friends doesn’t know and he is convinced that the past must remain firmly left there and that he and his new bride will live in the present and for their future. Dora isn’t so sure and knows that whatever George is holding back might be spilling into their future because even though George takes care and gives comfort to everyone else, there has been no one to take the dark shadows away from his own life. But love might find a way if a vengeful man from George’s past doesn’t get to them first.
The story is rather gentle as things go for a marriage of convenience, but it made sense because this pair of lovers are older and have weathered tough times in their past. They are mature and act like it. This is not to say that there is no conflict or that it is easy. Dora brings her unresolved issues over her parents’ past scandalous actions and George’s secret past is rising up to cause them both lots of trouble. They have the awkward proposal scene, wedding night jitters, and adjustments to being a married pair, but they have lovely companion moments, too. They were both lonely people with a lot to offer another person and they treasured this in each other.
The bulk of the story is George and Dora’s romance which isn’t devoid of its passionate moments and time of personal healing, but there were several scenes with all the Survivors that made for a satisfying farewell book. I can easily recommend the book to those who like slightly spicy, heartwarming character-driven historical romance that isn’t afraid to touch on some tough issues that people can face at the time.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #161 HR