Series: The Everton Domestic Society #1
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 3rd 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
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Not every match is made at the marriage mart…
After a disastrous, short-lived engagement and years of caring for her ailing grandmother, Phoebe Hallsmith is resigned to spinsterhood. But if she must be unmarried, far better to be of use than languishing at home, disappointing her parents. As an employee of the Everton Domestic Society of London, Phoebe accepts a position at the country home of an old friend and discovers an estate—and a lord of the manor—in a state of complete chaos.
Losing himself in the bottle has done nothing to ease Markus Flammel’s grief over losing his wife. Not even his toddler daughter can bring him back from the brink. Now this fiery, strong-minded redhead has taken over his home, firing and hiring servants at will and arousing unexpected desire. As not one, but two, suitors suddenly vie for Phoebe’s hand, can Markus move past loss and fight for a future with the woman who has transformed his world?
Phoebe spent the years between age 18 and 23 in the Highlands with her grandmother. She loved every minute of it and wouldn’t have changed a minute of the time she had with her Grand. Of course those were her best “courting” years and now she’s considered on the shelf. She was engaged in Scotland but the man broke it off stating that Phoebe was a “cold fish.” When she returned home rather than try to find a husband she decides to continue helping people and takes a job at the Everton Domestic Society. Her family is outraged and her oldest brother, a viscount and head of the family, disowns her. She’s fine with that.
She is assigned to a job helping the Viscount of Devonrose get his house and family back in order. Normally Everton ladies don’t take jobs that involve anyone they know but she is specifically requested. She knows the family because she was very good friends with the now deceased Viscountess of Devonrose. When she arrives at the country estate she realizes she has her work cut out for her. When her friend Emma died in childbirth her husband, Markus, chose to kill himself with drinking. He was stuck in his grief and has been drinking practically non-stop for the past two years. His daughter Elizabeth is being raised by what little staff hasn’t been fired when Markus goes into a temper. The staff as well as Elizabeth is frightened of Markus and Phoebe isn’t having it.
When Phoebe arrives. Markus wants nothing more than for her to be gone. He does promise her that he will stop drinking and the longer he goes without a drink he realizes the kind of man he’s become. Instead of helping his grief, it was only worsening it. He also realizes he had ignored his holdings and most importantly, his daughter. He tries to put this to rights the damage he has done and in doing so he starts to notice Phoebe. He doesn’t want to be he knows that what he’s feeling isn’t just gratitude for her help, but appreciation for the woman herself. Though they both try to fight it they fall in love. Unfortunately Phoebe’s circumstances and her brother’s meddling may keep them apart.
This was a cute story. I really liked Phoebe and loved that she said whatever was on her mind (most of the time). She was bossy, but the situation called for that. I wish she had been a little bossier with her family – they were nuts. Her brother Miles was fine but the rest? Wow. Just wow.
Markus was fine after he finally pulled himself out of the bottle. He tried to make amends and was actually doing a bang-up job of it. Little Elizabeth needed her father and he was finally there for her in a big way.
The parts of the story I didn’t really care for had to do with Phoebe’s suitors. Markus was having problems coming to terms with his feelings and his thoughts on how he could never love another woman that would replace Emma. That didn’t make it any easier to see both his secretary and the man who had once jilted her come around to court her. I think this part annoyed me because Phoebe was so straightforward with everything else and it almost felt like she was leading these two on instead of telling them to take a giant leap. Yes, she said it a round about way but it bothered me that the author had her personality changing in those instances. It just was consistent.
Despite my issues it was a good story and I’ll be looking to read more in this series in the future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5