In a time when gender roles were very strict, a businesswoman and a man who enjoyed knitting found their way to each other.
Rakes and Roses is the third book in the Mayfield Family Series but can be read as a standalone. It is a clean, romantic and uplifting historical romance set in England, in the early 1800s.
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (May 5, 2020)
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
(By the Publisher)
Harry Stillman cares nothing for his future and spends his time at gaming tables, horse races, and in the company of whatever beautiful woman has caught his eye that week. He has little use for society or his uncle’s approval—until his debts begin exceeding his profits.
When Uncle Elliott refuses to pay off the debt, and instead offers him a large, monetary wedding gift if Harry were to marry a woman of his uncle’s approval, Harry is offended, angry, and … scared. His dire straits drives him to seek out the infamous Lord Damion—a moneylender who extolls a heavy price for his assistance.
Lord Damion, however, is not a lord at all, or even a man. When Lady Sabrina’s cheating husband leaves her, then ends up dying in a carriage accident, she creates a plan to ensure her future security through the secret persona of Lord Damion, and she is quickly becoming the richest woman in England.
When Harry presents his case to Lord Damion—hidden behind a partition and communicating through notes, not speech—she finds him ridiculous but somewhat endearing and agrees to consider his situation. However, when she finds Harry unconscious in the gutter later that day, his leg badly broken and his face barely recognizable from the beating that’s left him on the edge of death, she transports him to a house she keeps in Wimbledon.
When Harry wakes, he is surprised to find himself in widow Sabrina’s house. Through the weeks of recovery, Harry is humbled by Sabrina’s selfless care, and reveals details of his character he has not shown to anyone. For her part, Sabrina finds herself more and more drawn to him, impressed by his determination to gain his strength and change his ways.
Secretly, Sabrina pays off his debts to preserve him from further harm and tries not to let her heart become entangled. To love a man like this, again, would be her ruin.
Knee-deep in secrets, both Harry and Sabrina must decide what true love means to them, and how to navigate the pitfalls of high English society. In the end, they must both decide which is more important: wealth or true love.
Rakes and Roses is my first book by Josi S Kilpack, and I enjoyed her rich and articulated writing style.
Lady Sabrina, an affluent widow, knew Mr. Harry Stilman from a brief encounter they had several years before. She would have forgotten him but for the fact that he was kind when she needed it most.
Suddenly, their situations were reversed. Harry was wounded and left to die in the gutter, and Sabrina was his only chance of surviving.
While the romance builds, the author explores complex themes like domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, gambling, loss, and the role of women in society.
But it is done positively, focusing on the ability to overcome traumas and redeem vices with dedication and a little help of faith and friends.
Harry was a rake, but more by circumstance than disposition. He was sweet, loyal, and determined once he chose his path. Sabrina was kind and strong but had built a thick wall around her heart after her terrible first marriage.
Despite being a clean romance, the author managed to convey the deep connection and sensual tension between the couple.
There are some adorable side characters, in special the housekeeper Therese and Sabrina’s loyal solicitor, Mr. Gordon. I thought they would make a lovely couple themselves.
If you like an uplifting story with a sweet yet flawed hero and a strong and independent heroine, this book is for you.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Josi S. Kilpack has written twenty-five novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for “Lord Fenton’s Folly, and has been a Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV–none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She hates to talk on the phone, learn how to do new things, and sweep–all of which she gets to do a lot.
Josi and her husband, Lee, have four children and live in Northern Utah.