Sunday, December 18, 2011
A WInter's Scandal
Thea Bainbridge has never thought she needed more in her life than being sister to the local village vicar and helping him write sermons and help run the town as needed. But when she learns that Gabriel, Lord Morecombe, has suddenly become a landowner in the area and moved into his new house she can't help but remember their brief kiss nearly a decade ago when she had been in London for her sister's come out. Thea herself had never had a come out and had thus been relegated to spinsterhood, but she is still embarrassed and upset that Gabriel does not even recognize her. Gabriel has relocated to the country with the company of several of his friends, including Thea's cousin, Ian who is eager to escape his new wife, Emily, for the holiday season. While readying the church for the nativity scene Thea discovers a baby in the manger and, after seeing a brooch with the Morecombe crest, immediately assumes that he is Gabriel's son and wastes no time in confronting Gabriel and in the ensuing argument her hurt over their forgotten kiss is exposed.
Gabriel recognizes the brooch as belonging to his sister, Jocelyn, who absconded from her fiance, Lord Rawdon, a year ago and has not been heard from since. He teams up with Thea to help discover who left the baby in the manger, who the parents are, and where Jocelyn is. Matthew is an easy child and it does not take long for both Thea and Gabriel to fall in love with the cutie and they find themselves in each other's company quite a bit. Gabriel does remember Thea and cannot figure out how she could ever think she was forgettable and he has every intention of making sure she knows precisely how unforgettable she is and how much he desires her. When Matthew is kidnaped they have to race to save him from the kidnapper and a night spent alone in a cabin brings them even closer together. Even as they raise Matthew and work to find out what is happening, Thea believes that she will never be anything more than a distraction. When all is said and done they are left together to discover how they will make a life together work so that they can share their love with everyone, including Matthew.
Spinster sister's of vicars have been appearing a lot lately in romances I feel like and I admit that I don't really have a problem with it because I like the idea of a woman who has had responsibilities and work to do, finally finding love with a man who is equal to her and who appreciates her even while she has gone unnoticed for so long. Thea was intelligent and polite and respected by her community and wanted a family but had convinced herself she was fine with her life because she didn't believe she had a chance for anything more. She had built up the kiss between her and Gabriel because it was the closest she had come to intimacy and she was crushed when he did not remember it. She was obviously very caring because she took in Matthew and wanted what was best for him even if it meant she would have to give him up to his biological family. Gabriel was a town rake although we didn't really get too much evidence of this, which is fine with me, but he proved himself with his dedication to Matthew and his sister and with the way he treated and behaved so lovingly to Thea.
Their relationship was very well established as they spent a lot of time together and got to know each other and proved that they would work so well together. I really enjoyed reading about them together because there were just so many little moments that all added up to a really compatible couple who belonged together. They complimented each other very nicely as she grounded him and brought out the best in him and he gave her confidence in her own numerous abilities. There was some sex, not too much, but enough to give some much needed steam and establish some serious physical connection between them and I felt like it was a really important part of their relationship. The baby plot was a very important part of the story and was well blended with the romance but I did not get the sense that it was taking over and overshadowing the romance at all. It was a huge mystery and they just built on each other until I was very much confused but I really liked that I could not guess right away what was going on and the resolution was a complete shock to me.
Rating: A very enjoyable book with two compatible characters and a great mystery plot that was near perfect if it had been a little more fun or sexy.