This Regency era battle of wits, wills, and the sexes features a wily duke determined to see the succession of his line secured. The duke can’t force his sons to marry, but he can make their lives miserable until they do. Resisting his pressure, each gentleman holds out for true love.Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
The Soldier features Devlin St. Just, oldest, but illegitimate, son of the duke of Moreland, who arrives at his new estate weary in body and spirit only to find it is in no better shape than he is. Worse, the previous owner’s bastard daughter, five-year-old Winnie Farnum, has become a fixture on the property, and also Devlin’s responsibility. He dragoons Winnie’s cousin, Emmaline Farnum, into serving as a temporary governess, only to discover that she can nurture him too, in ways no other woman ever has before.
Devlin’s battle-worn spirit calls to Emmie, but Emmie is keeping devastating secrets from him. Revealing what Emmie has hidden becomes Devlin’s mission, because he knows that if only he can find out the truth, it will change everything, and they all three might then have their only chance at ever finding love and happiness...
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Release Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Historical Romance
Single Title/Series: THE SOLDIER is book two in the Duke's Obsession series but can very easily be read as a stand alone novel.
Cover Thoughts: Very beautiful. I love the colors, the shimmering detail and the swirling font.
Origin: I received an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
For the newly titled Earl of Rosecroft, it would appear upon his arrival to the rural wilderness of Yorkshire that Devlin St. Just's estate is badly in need of repair, much like his own tattered soul. Haunted by the brutal memories of his service to the crown against Bonaparte, Devlin barely clings to his sanity. Luckily, an immediate distraction presents itself in the form of a sassy five-year-old child and her curvaceous self-imposed guardian who smells intriguingly like freshly baked bread. Thunderstruck by both females, Devlin soon finds himself feeling a previously never before felt desire: he wants to keep them.
Emmaline Farnum is an outsider in Yorkshire. Tainted not only by her self employment as a baker, but by the scandalous reputations of both her mother and her aunt, Emmie's content with her lot in life except for when it comes to her precocious young cousin, Winnie. The previous Earl of Rosecroft's by-blow, Winnie's only remaining family is Emmie but with her rightful place being at Rosecroft, Emmie is unwilling to become too associated with the child for fear that her family ties will blacken Winnie's social well being. But with the recent death of the previous earl, Winnie is all alone at Rosecroft except for the newly minted Devlin St. Just. Agreeing with Devlin that Winnie's transition should be as smooth as possible, Emmie agrees to remove her business to Rosecroft and live there until a suitable governess can be hired but she's ill-prepared for the bursting compassion and desire she feels for the world weary earl.
It's not long before Devlin fancies himself in love Emmie. The delectable confections and smells she brings to his home, the ease with which he finds himself confiding in her, and the family atmosphere she brings along with Winnie have all brought new meaning to Devlin's life. While he still suffers from setbacks of post traumatic stress, Devlin slowly looses his desolate uncertainty of never being able to function wholly. But when his proposal is met with rejection, Devlin soon uncovers a backbone of steel within Emmie that might very well doom both their lives to eternal emptiness.
Stubborn to her very core and determined that Winnie will have the life of privilege and security that she deserves, Emmie will sacrifice everything including her very happiness to ensure the well being of her young cousin who has only ever known disappointment. Certain that her presence in Winnie's life will damage her cousin's future social acceptance, Emmie does what she can to steel her heart from her decision that will ultimately deprive her of Winnie's companionship and most of all, of Devlin St. Just.
Never intending to fall in love with the beautiful earl, Emmie is helpless to stop her desire. Knowing that cultivating any romantic relationship with the earl will end in heartbreak, Emmie does what she can to avoid Devlin but her heart's and her body's need will not be ignored. Angered with herself after every amorous incident, Emmie knows that she needs to remove herself not only from Rosecroft, but from Yorkshire. She will never subject Devlin nor Winnie to the taint of her family. In her heart, they deserve better.
Dropped on the doorstep as the bastard son of the Duke of Moreland, Devlin St. Just has never reconciled his soul with the abandonment of his mother at the tender age of five. Forever jealous of the easy love between his half brothers and sisters with his stepmother, Devlin has always set himself apart from his family as a means of self preservation. Now, haunted by his violent tour on the continent as well as the loss of two brothers in battle, Devlin is more distant than ever. Repairing to Yorkshire and the earldom his father arranged for him, Devlin feels both angst and relief with his new home. Distant enough from the social whirlwind he despises, yet unfamiliar enough to spark his bad memories, Devlin throws himself into his duties and his one true love: horses.
Never once anticipating that two females would impact his life so thoroughly, Devlin doesn't mind the distraction they present but rather revels in it. Immediately relieved to find his body's renewed stirrings toward the opposite sex, Devlin can't get enough of his new resident cook and temporary guardian of his young ward. Emmie is a dream made reality and Devlin doesn't wait to proclaim his love nor his desire to take her to wife. But when his request is met with rejection, Devlin is too much a man to ask again but no less of a man when trying to do what he can to secure Emmie's happiness in any small way. Her determination to put distance between him and Winnie leaves a sour taste but Devlin will do what he must to respect Emmie's wishes even if it means signing himself to lifetime of emptiness.
My Final Thoughts:
While wistful and at times, deeply emotional, THE SOLDIER lacked reader engagement as well as having the misfortune of showcasing a confounding heroine and a hero who never asks the burning questions.
Swinging back and forth, Emmie Farnum is an irritating pendulum. Burning hot than cold she caves to her body's desires only to wake with indignant anger come morning. Knowingly using Devlin to soothe an ache while also harboring the determination to abandon him, Emmie, for all she's worth, can't hide the truth of her heart's desire but she can hide the real cowardly reason for wanting to leave. Beyond that, she's willing to abandon a young child who idolizes and loves her for the worst kind of reason: the selfish need to selfless. Finally, not only does Emmie have little self worth, she lacks trust and only manages to reconcile herself to Devlin after she's given up all hope and the strength to pursue the path she's set. Instead she's hurt those she loves for the absurd notion of protecting them for the burden of her watery-grey reputation.
Devlin, conversely, is a lovely hero with an incredibly kind and forgiving heart. He could give a fig about society's thoughts where he's concerned. Trying to do what's best for a very young girl and the woman he loves, Devlin exudes the most patient of hearts. He truly deserves more from Emmie but instead he's on the receiving end of her tedious and painful ways. Still, frustration mounted for this reader when serious questions begged to be demanded and thus answered. Instead, as perhaps fodder to propel the plot, Devlin is never direct in his concerns. His actions are slightly out of character too since Devlin is so direct in all other circumstances...
However, there is some light at the end of this dark tunnel and that's Winnie. She's such a sassy little thing and there's no hoodwinking this little smarty pants. As with Devlin, Winnie deserves more from Emmie. In her cowardliness, Emmie does what she can to keep Winnie in the dark about her plans to leave Yorkshire which is futile given the fact that the girl can sniff out a lie from three miles away. Truly the life of the novel, Winnie steals the show from page one and I relished every scene that she was apart of.
Likely to receive mixed reviews, THE SOLDIER is saddled with numerous issues with a few thankful endearing qualities. Boasting a wonderfully kind hero and a lovable child star, many might overlook the irritating qualities of its heroine. Sadly, the novel simply didn't work for me but I am willing to give Burrowes another try with her upcoming THE VIRTUOSO featuring Devlin's charming younger brother Valentine.
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THE VIRTUOSO - Releases November 1, 2011