Rating: 4.5 stars
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Everett Gerard has spent years avoiding his ancestral home and the dark memories that reside there. But after numerous letters from the Abbey’s bailiff, Gerard has no choice but to finally return home. A young boy has shown up at the Abbey claiming Gerard family parentage, and someone needs to figure things out. So Gerard faces up to his fears and his responsibilities and heads home.
When Gerard arrives and sees young Ipsial, it is clear that he is the child of someone from the Gerard line as the family resemblance is undeniable. But despite claims that he himself is the father, Gerard knows that isn’t true, considering he has never even been with a woman. The culprit is most likely his deceased father or his abhorrent cousin Hubert, but until he can figure out exactly what’s going on and what best to do with the child, Gerard is keeping his mouth shut.
When Gerard finally comes home, bailiff Miles Kenway isn’t expecting much from him. The man has barely bothered to respond to most of his letters, let alone take any kind of active role in managing his estate. And when numerous letters about Ipsial go ignored as well, Miles figures Gerard for a gadabout who can’t be bothered to deal with his responsibilities. Miles has been doing his best to help care for Ipsial in his father’s absence, but the boy is essentially a wild thing – stealing, lying, sleeping in the woods, and totally skittish. So Miles is surprised when Gerard takes an active role in helping to care for Ipsial and to slowly help him learn to trust the men and his acceptance into their lives. Miles also finds himself surprised at his feelings for his employer, and even more so that they are returned.
Although Gerard had originally planned a quick visit home to see to the boy and escape back to London, he soon finds that life at the Abbey is calling to him. He remembers what he loved about the land and the people, and becomes determined to make needed improvements to the Abbey. Despite the truth about Ipsial’s parentage, Gerard grows to love and care for the boy, and realizes that he wants to claim and raise him. And his feelings for his bailiff are stronger than any he has felt in his wild days of touring the continent. But just as it is seems as if things might work out, the truth about Ipsial’s father comes to light and it could destroy everything the men have built together.
I am a huge fan of Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s historicals, and although I have only reviewed two of them here (Seducing Stephen and The Psychic and the Sleuth), I have read and enjoyed almost all of them. So I was thrilled to see this new story and I really thought it was wonderful as well.
I am not always a fan of kids in my romances, I’ll be honest. I often find them just overly precocious and unrealistically portrayed, and reading about some else’s kids in the middle of a romance doesn’t always work for me. But I have to say that I loved the inclusion of Ipsial in this story and found that he is really what brings it all together so beautifully. Finding a connection with this young boy is what helps the growth of both men. Gerard most significantly, as he finally finds his place in his family home, begins to grow up and accept his responsibilities, and make a real life for himself. But even Miles is affected, as his connection with Ipsial gives him a sense of family and settles his restless traveling spirit. And of course, caring for this young boy is also part of what brings Gerard and Miles together, as they begin to co-parent this child and build their own unusual family together. So I found all of this wonderfully done and Ipsial definitely won my heart as this broken, wild child who slowly learns to trust and accept the love of these two men.
I also loved Gerard and Miles as a couple. At first Miles doesn’t particularly like Gerard, and his position as employee makes things a bit awkward. But these guys have an intense attraction almost right away that quickly moves to more. Miles really helps Gerard face his demons and it is a source of support and comfort to him. And Gerard helps Miles feel settled with a real place to belong. And these men are both sweet and sexy together, and I loved the way they bond together and work to protect the family they have built.
I really found the plot interesting and unusual and enjoyed the way Ipsial integrates so well into both these men’s lives. I liked this one a lot and would definitely recommend it.