"The greatest plague to ever bedevil mortal man, the greatest threat to his peace, the most fiendish source of undeserved humility is his sister, and spinster sisters are the worst of a bad lot". With this opening salvo we are given a hint that Nicholas Haddonfield, Earl of Bellefonte, is stretched to the limit by actions of his sister, Nita Haddonfield. All this just as wealthy wool merchant Tremaine St. Michael, who has called to discuss sheep, strides into the Earl's parlour.
Before long we witness the dance between Tremaine, his desire for Haddonfield's sheep, the desirable Nita Haddonfield and Nicholas' loving endeavours to marry off Nita. The story line is peppered with truly delightful lines, such as when Nicholas persuades Tremaine to stay for a few days and then proceeds to remind Tremaine that he is 'an eligible bachelor, and therefore, a doomed man.'
When Nicholas declares that the 'Haddonfield womenfolk are like faeries. A man falls into their clutches and life ceases to have meaning.' Tremaine fleetingly recalls his Scottish grandfathers adage, 'avoid faeries as if your life depends on it.'
Fortunately for us Tremaine doesn't heed his grandfathers advice and we are treated to a searching, searing story of love's challenge alongside discovering self worth.
Nita is a determined woman with the gift of healing who cares for those under Nicholas' care. Nicholas wants more for her.
Tremaine meets all those requirements but what are Lady Nita's? Nita is determined to eschew marriage so that she can continue what she says as her life's work, the care of the sick and less fortunate. How can she do that and marry?
Of course there's an obligatory blackguard in the wings. His fate is both satisfying and a little surprising. Still one should never be surprised by the way Burrowes works her lyrical narrative magic.
One last mention. I was not disappointed. The 'foot' once again becomes an endearing romantic opportunity. When Tremaine helps Nita off with her woollen stockings, the tenderness of the action with its sensual overtones is a delight. Thank you Ms. Burrowes!
Tremaine and Nita's story is both consummately challenging and exquisitely satisfying. This entry into the new True Gentleman series leads the way with gusto, verve, passion and empathy.
A NetGalley ARC