I had a good time reading the first book in the Redcakes series so when I had the opportunity to read this one I was glad to do so. This is Gawain’s story and I was more than curious to get it. He was so ambitious and felt that he had something to prove plus he had such decided opinions about marriage that I just couldn’t wait to meet the woman to challenge him into ditching his plans for love.
The story opens when Gawain Redcake attends the nuptials of his friend Lord Judah Shield. Gawain has decided that he wants to marry into the Shield family for the purpose of advancement in Society by having a noble wife. He has money and some connection through his sister marrying Judah’s older brother, a Marquis, but he doesn’t want to depend on them. Unfortunately, the Marquis turns him down and the lady in question elopes.
Gawain goes with her brother to bring her back still thinking to marry her if it isn’t too late which brings him to the inn in Leeds and his passionate encounter with Ann Haldene. Gawain continues on his way never realizing that his time with Ann will alter his life forever. Even though her healing arts work wonders on his war-ravaged body, he can’t afford to be side tracked from his goal.
Ann Haldene is a half-Indian widow and now she has a child by a man not her husband. Gawain is willing to do right by her, but she hesitates because he doesn’t love her. She only planned to remarry for love. For the sake of her child, she does end up accepting. She discovers quickly that she and Gawain have very different ideas of her role as his wife and her role as a healer. Their physical passion is not enough. In the midst of their marital issues, the old mystery of her first husband’s murder crops up and Gawain’s investigations may have stirred up more than the answers.
The storyline offered up some interesting plotting like the situation between Gawain and Ann, their differing ethnic backgrounds playing a part, the mystery of Wells Haldene’s death, the disappearance of the Shields’ sister, the reappearance of the man who seduced Gawain’s sister, and of course Gawain’s plan for his future. Things were a little loose in the plot, but nothing bad. The transitions between scenes were a tad rough. For the most part, I enjoyed the components and the whole of the story.
While I liked the story, I didn’t love it. I had difficulty connecting with Gawain and Ann’s romance. I didn’t love them together, but I didn’t feel it was utter incompatibility either.
The story indicated that Ann was the one who talked a good game about love and Gawain who just wanted to do his duty and care for his new wife and child, but honestly, she didn’t do much to show love or get love to grow between them. I think that’s what I was waiting for and didn’t get. She waited…I waited…*sound of crickets*
In the meantime, Gawain was actively securing his business, securing his family a home and comfort, keeping his wife safe and spending time as father to his son and the orphaned Fern, loving on Ann’s body, rethinking his ways and making changes, and finally he arrived exactly where he wants and needs to be.
My favorite part of the story was Fern Faldene, Ann’s little sister in law who went mute after the tragedy that took her brother, Wells. Gawain’s deliberate attempt to build a relationship with her was a sweet thing.
So all in all, I liked the overall story, but was only semi-engaged with the romance part. This should be read in series order. Those who enjoy Historical Romance of the Victorian period might want to give this one a try.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.