His heart begins to heal…
He gave her shelter from the storm, nursed her back to health, just as any good man might do for a damsel in distress. But Tremain Colson is more than just a small town vicar performing a gallant duty. He’s an ex-soldier whose spirit has been ravaged by war, a nobleman hiding his aristocratic heritage. Yet despite his secrets, he cannot help but feel drawn to the fallen beauty and soon asks her to stay and care for the orphan in his charge…
And hers is lost…
Disgrace sent Eliza Winston out into the world, a governess in ruin. But once she finds herself in Tremain’s home—and in his bed—she realizes her handsome rescuer is the one in need of healing. No sooner does Eliza thaw the vicar’s heart than she realizes her own is in danger. For Tremain is not only the man she dreams of marrying, but a blueblood whose noble birth makes him an impossible match…
Eliza’s entire body throbbed with pain. The fall from the carriage no doubt did damage as she’d rolled down a slight embankment, landing in a ditch. That much she did remember. Groaning, she tried to lift her arms. No luck.
The door swung open and banged against the wall, startling her. A tiny squeak escaped her chapped lips. A tall, imposing man, leaning heavily on a cane crossed the threshold. Dressed entirely in black, he hobbled closer to the bed. All at once she was struck by his austere face. Deep frown lines were etched on either side of his mouth which was turned down in a fierce scowl. Here stood a man the furthest thing from a kind, older grandfather, more like a man of thirty-odd years. He would be considered handsome, she supposed, with his thick, raven-black hair and sculpted cheekbones, but the chilled expression he gave evoked no warmth at all and his silver-gray eyes held the shade of chips of ice from a frozen lake. Rather frightening and much like a stern schoolmaster or unforgiving, sober priest, both of which Eliza had enough of in her life.
“You’re awake then?” The words were clipped and precise.
“Tha…thank you, sir,” she croaked. “Your name?”
The cane thumped heavily on the floor as he made his way to stand at her bedside. “Tremain Colson.”
A deep voice, but it held no warmth at all. Well, she was thankful he found her and took her in, but had the distinct feeling she’d be out on her backside as soon as she became mobile. “My trunk?”
“I recovered it about an hour ago. I found you at half past four this morning. It is now three in the afternoon.”
Goodness. She’d slept near around the clock. With great effort, she managed to lift the blankets and peer under them. I’m only wearing my shift. Did this iceberg of a man strip off her clothes and lay his hands on her? “My clothes?”
“I hung them by the fire in the parlor. May I have your name?”
Right. “Eliza…Eliza Winston. Where am I?”
“The village of Hawksgreen. Where were you heading?”
His standing over her should be ominous for he had quite the presence. Yet the fright she experienced initially dissipated even though he continued to act in a grave, unfriendly manner. What a dark, brooding man.
“Are you in pain?”
Yes, you daft man, I was tossed from a moving carriage. She no longer wished to converse. Instead she gave him a brisk nod.
“Very well, I will make you a cup of willow bark tea.” He turned on his heel and hobbled out. Eliza admired the view. Well-proportioned with broad shoulders, at least it appeared as such considering he wore wool trousers and a matching coat. The clothes fit him well, the coat hugging a slim waist. He wore no cravat, but the shirt was buttoned up to his neck. Wonder how Mr. Colson injured his leg? He’d grimace in pain as he turned to leave. Even with his disability he brought her and her trunk into his home? Perhaps he also experienced discomfort this day.
Where on God’s Earth was Hawksgreen? She’d never heard of it. A shiver of apprehension ran down her spine. She needed time to construct a sound plan for her future, a plan all the harder to make since she’d been robbed. Not a farthing to her name and she possessed nothing of value to sell. Eliza doubted this man would be empathetic to her plight. Perhaps he had a long-suffering, kindly wife who would take pity on her. Nevertheless, if she must exaggerate her injuries to gain more time, she would.
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My Thoughts: Eliza Winston has a secure job as a governess with a good family. There has even been talk of keeping her employed there until her charge makes her debut. Yet, Eliza decides to accept the proposition of one of the young lords in the household, and begins an affair, which is discovered almost immediately. Eliza is dismissed, given a lukewarm reference and some cash, and put in a coach to be removed far away from the house. As she is travelling away, she reflects on how foolishly she acted, and how she threw away a good home and security for fleeting physical pleasure. Her troubles are not over, as the men hired to drive her away beat her, take all her cash, and toss her out of the coach.
Vicar Tremain Colson discovers the unconscious Eliza, and manages to bring her back to his home – no easy feat, as he has a severely injured leg. Tremain is of noble birth, but is living quietly as a Vicar as he attempts to heal his body and spirit, and perhaps atone for some of the atrocities he committed while serving as a soldier. Before his injuries, Tremain enjoyed many affairs, but now it’s been years since he’s been with a woman. Beautiful Eliza awakens the desire in him that had been lost. Still, an affair is not in his plans, so he needs to move Eliza out of his home as soon as possible.
Eliza stays in town, as she really has no other resources, and accepts a job as a barmaid, quite a comedown from a governess. With each meeting, she becomes more attracted to Tremain, and she can see that he’s attracted to her. Eliza starts to dream about being a vicar’s wife, and doesn’t hide her feelings from Tremain. He, however, resists because of his physical and emotional problems. He will draw her a little bit near, then push her away.
I admit to having my doubts about Eliza, and her choices. In that day and time, the consequences of her actions were very severe. She appears to not have learned from her mistake, as she begins almost immediately to pursue the vicar, even when he clearly refuses. Eventually, Tremain realizes that he has been hiding in the guise of vicar, though his intentions were honorable, and he needs to assume his rightful place and responsibilities. But can a disgraced governess and a battle scarred nobleman find a happy ever after? You’ll have to read this passionate story to find the answer.
About Karyn Gerrard: Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. A multi-published author, Karyn loves to write historicals, particularly in the Victorian era. She also writes contemporaries. Tortured heroes are a must. As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.