|Pub. Date:||May 19, 2016|
|Length:||12 hrs 22 min|
The Windham series kicks off with what appears to be a rags to riches story between the ducal heir and his housekeeper. Having myself started with the series prequel, I was a bit surprised to discover the hero of this first installment was not the first-born son.
Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, was not the first-born son of the Duke of Moreland. The Duke and Duchess of Moreland lost two sons, one being the original heir who had poor health. Gayle takes the duties that have fallen on him very seriously. He is all work and no play, and is definitely not marriage-minded, despite all the scheming attempts of the Duke. When his housekeeper koshes him over the head with a fireplace poker, he is drawn in by her subsequent tender loving care. Gayle was a good hero - responsible and serious, but steamy behind the bed curtains.
Anna Seaton is the Earl's relatively new housekeeper, but everything is not as it appears with the mysterious servant. She is a commoner with the bearing of a lady, and she is very protective of Morgan, a deaf maid in the household. Anna's life became difficult after her grandfather died, and her perseverance was admirable. However I didn't have a great connection to her character. I think if her secrets would have been revealed sooner, it would have helped me understand her more. As it was, I didn't particularly care for her interactions with Gayle.
The relationship between the Earl and his Housekeeper was slow-building. There was a lot of hot and cold on Anna's part, which started to annoy me. I felt like she made Westhaven work way too hard for a relationship that she knew was inevitable. She was waiting for a big declaration of love when his actions already showed his true feelings, but they were not enough for her. So I liked and disliked the story at turns, and listening to it in audio dragged out over more than a week.
One part of the story confused me - and that was Westhaven's prior botched betrothal and his current niece. It seemed like we were missing that part of the backstory, and it wasn't clear if the man who married his former betrothed was actually his brother. I'm assuming he was, but he didn't seem to be part of the family by his words and lack of interaction with the Duke and brothers. I am looking forward to Devlin's story though - I found his character to be intriguing.
The narrator, James Langton, did a good job with the story. I am usually skeptical about male narrators because of the difficulty with male-as-female voices... but James Langton, while he didn't affect a believable female voice, at least made it fun to listen to. All of the male characters, except Gayle and Devlin, sounded very old. So that was a bit odd, but I imagine that finding a different sound for so many men in the same story could be challenging.