A Gentleman Always Remembers by Candace Camp 815
When Eve Hawthorne was widowed after her officer husband died she moved back in with her father and stepmother. The arrangement was not at all pleasant so she accepted a job as a companion/ chaperone to the two young American cousins of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was happy to hire her with the recommendation of her friend, Vivian. The Bascombe girls quickly take a liking to their new chaperone, but it is their cousin's half-brother, Fitzhugh Talbot, who most enjoys her company. When he goes to pick her up he finds her playing with her younger brother in a river with her skirt tucked into her dress and he cannot getthe image out of his mind. He is determined to bring out this carefree woman again and wants to begin an affair with her. Despite being married, Eve has never known sex as her husband had been impotent, and while she is interested in experiencing that she knows that having an affair would ruin her reputation and put her very livelihood at risk.
But she is forced to enlist his aid when one of her charges, young Lily Bascombe, is far too interested in Fitz's friend, the rakish Neville Carr, who is already pre-engaged to another young woman. The Earl has been called back to London and suddenly it is the carefree Fitz who is taking charge of the estate when many come down with the measles, and who finds himself for once being the honorable guardian as he attempts to warn Neville away from Lily. Things get even more heated when someone starts delivering threatening notes to Eve claiming that her husband was a thief who killed himself and stole the very watch the Eve cherishes from him. She tries to be brave, but when someone starts breaking into the house, she tells Fitz and the two become closer than ever. Fitz needs to find the man who is threatening Eve because suddenly he can't sand the thought of anything happening to her.
I always like the chaperone getting a little something for herself and Camp does a pretty good job of it here. Eve is great however I thought it a little too noble of her not to have accepted Vivian's generous offer to come live with her. I'm all for a woman trying to make it on her own, but in that day and age when someone gives you a way out I think she should have taken it. I also thought that Camp did an excellent job explaining away her virginal status because apparently the virgin widow used to be all too common in the genre and while not so now, the situation still needs some good back story. The women are of course all fast friends and get along famously, which sometimes annoys me in stories as that is so rarely the case in real life, but Camp also does a great job with this- perhaps because one of the villains of the story is Lady Sabrina, who I absolutely love to hate in the Willowmere series.
And another staple is the rogue with no worries who suddenly finds himself wanting to tie himself to one woman and take up all the responsibilities he had been all too eager to hand off to another. Fitz is really pretty average for a romance novel hero; supposedly bad but still noble to stop just shy of ruining the heroine. The sex between these two is pretty good but I really felt like it could have been better as there was some great chemistry between them throughout the rest of the book. The whole letters and stealing ex-husband was a little weird really as it just seemed to show up when it was convenient and then disappear when there was other things that needed to be done. I guess I'm also a little upset as I hoped the Bascombe sisters would get their own series/ books but their stories are obviously being thrown in as side-romances for the men of Willowmere. One of my favorite parts of this was reading about Neville Carr's weak-willed "fiance" growing a spine and I wish there had been more.
Rating: Camp really has become one of my go-to authors recently and while this is not her best this is still a fun read. Looking forward to Stewkesbury's story immensely.