York, England, 1819
As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker had a good life, but now widowed, working for a living, and her only child grown, she feels invisible, tired, and lonely. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she kisses him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her.
She sees Mr. Henry again and feels the possibilities growing until, while working in the kitchens during a dinner party, she sees the valet she kissed sitting at the right hand of the baroness. Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the heir to the earldom—Kenneth Winterton.
Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca does not trust Lord Winterton and refuses to accept his apology. But when Lord Winterton proves he is as kind and gentle as “Mr. Henry” was, she finds herself willing to give him a second chance. But will he take a chance on her? He needs a wife to help him in his place in society, and nothing about Rebeccas life does that . . . except how he feels when she is with him.
This was a solid read. There are a lot of class dynamics at play here, and somehow I find it difficult to believe that an earl and a maid ending up together would be even an option in this society…but I wasn’t there. Rebecca becomes much surer of herself when dealing with her father—thankfully—in part because of her friendship with Kenneth. He is also conflicted about his new role in society, and he’s not sure he likes it, but Rebecca’s support helps him take a stand for what he wants and believes, instead of just going along with the wishes of everyone around him.
Josi S. Kilpack is an award-winning author. The Valet’s Secret is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)