Chastity Somers is in the process of stealing four children from the workhouse when she gets caught by Reed Gilbride. She cons Reed into helping her escape with the children. Reed hates children and wants nothing to do with them. Yesterday, Chastity met with an attorney. Her husband had received a letter and was on his way to England with Chastity to claim an inheritance he knew nothing about. Chastity went in his place the day before. She is now a widow, William died during the crossing. Mr. Sennett informed Chastity that any claim William may have had died with him. However, since the inheritance has not yet been claimed, he will allow Chastity to live on the property. The inheritance has to be claimed within 20 years, which will soon be up. Mr. Sennett will allow Chastity to operate a home for unwanted children on the property if no one claims the inheritance.
Reed Gilbride served during the war with Napoleon. Now that he is out of the service, he needs to find his roots. He knows that the people that raised him weren’t his birth parents. They definitely made that fact known to him while he was growing up. They had quite a few of their own children and they worked Reed hard while he was growing up. He has received a letter directing him to Mr. Sennett as well. Mr. Sennett tells Reed that he will have to provide proof that he is the heir to the Earl of Barrington before he will release the inheritance. Reed plans on finding that proof in the Earl’s property.
Chastity manages to get the children to Sunnyledge. They decide to sleep in the kitchen their first night there. When the children are all bedded down for the evening, Chastity hears a noise. She grabs a knife and goes to the front door. There is a man there. It turns out to be Reed. The two recognize each other. Chastity ends up offering Reed a position as caretaker for the property and the two of them decide to search for any evidence together.
They are both attracted to each other. Chastity was a nun before she married William and she still wears the black habit. She has altered it to suit as widow’s weeds. Reed finds her veil and believes Chastity to be a nun. Chastity doesn’t tell Reed that she is a widow. She is hoping that if Reed believes her to be a nun, they will be able to fight the attraction between them. When Reed discovers the truth, all bets are off and the seduction begins. Meanwhile, Reed ends up with all kinds of accidents happening to him.
All characters in the story have been wounded. Reed had a difficult childhood. The people that raised him only kept him for the money they received. They never cared about him and definitely let him know. He has built walls around his heart to keep himself from getting hurt again. He knows what it is like to be raised without love. Chastity was left on the convent’s doorstep as a baby, and she was raised by nuns. They didn’t believe in displays of affection and Chastity is desperate for someone to love her. The children’s parents were missionaries. When their father took sick, their mother left them with a relative and went to take care of their father. The relative died and Chastity found them in the basement, taking care of themselves. When Chastity wouldn’t perform the services that the Beadle of the Church demanded, he put them in a workhouse. Chastity couldn’t bear the thought of them there and decided to rescue them herself. The youngest, Bekah, doesn’t even talk.
This is definitely not your typical Regency. There are no balls, no fancy clothes or society. What this story is filled with, is love. How the power of love can overcome just about everything that life throws at it. This is a heartwarming tale as we watch the children begin to breach the walls that Reed has built around his heart, especially little Bekah. Annette Blair tells a very heartwarming tale as Chastity tries to take care of the children when she can’t even take care of herself. Reed has to teach her how to cook and milk a cow. Chastity’s nursing skills come into play when Reed ends up getting hit with an arrow. This is a definite heartwarming tale that I heartily recommend reading.
Chere Gruver, July 2003