About the Book:
From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes a swashbuckling tale of Regency era romance and revenge.
She couldn’t forget…
Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.
He wouldn’t forgive…
After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.
As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?
Nicholas Seaton is the illegitimate son of a maid, and works as a groom. While growing up, he and Margaret, the daughter of a wealthy estate owner, became the best of friends. They played, frolicked, danced, and generally reveled in each other’s company, all to the dismay of Fred, the neighbor who wanted Margaret for his own. When Fred could no longer endure seeing their happiness in each other, he framed Nicholas for a theft, ensuring that Nicholas would be hanged, or, at least, deported. Margaret was able to free Nicholas before he was taken away. Nicholas had no choice but to flee, but he begged Margaret to wait for him. He promised to return, no matter how long it took. But he never did.
As a child, Margaret “Maggie” Honeywell was fearless and determined, but things have changed. It’s ten years since Nicholas left, and she’s never received any word of him. During those years, Maggie suffered a severe illness, one which left her weak, and nowhere near being the robust, active girl she once was. In addition, her father has died, leaving none other than Fred in charge of her beloved estate, as well as having approval over who she marries. Of course Fred wants the groom to be himself, so that he can combine his neighboring estate with hers. He also longs for the kind of affection she bestowed on Nicholas but never on him. Maggie is now approaching a deadline – she has six months to marry, or her estate will become the property of Fred, who is certain he will finally achieve his goals.
Feeling trapped, Maggie decides to take a trip to town. Though not very hopeful of finding an alternate solution, Maggie still intends to contact her attorney on the slim chance she won’t have to marry Fred. While in town, she meets the man everyone is buzzing about, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare. John is the grandson and heir to the Earl of Allendale, and has lived his whole life abroad. His father, now deceased, was somewhat of a scandal. The sudden appearance of John has severely crushed the plans of his distant cousin, Lionel, who for years presumed himself to be the heir to the earldom.
Maggie immediately felt a familiarity with John, though she couldn’t say why – that is, until she got close enough to look into his unique grey eyes. She’s certain that John is her long lost beloved friend, Nicholas. John, however, shows no sign of recognizing Maggie from the past, though he appears to be quite interested in her at the present time. When Maggie finally tells John that she knows his identity, he’s incredulous, and denies that he is Nicholas.
John intends to court Maggie, which seems to be impossible, as she will lose her estate if she doesn’t marry Fred, and John’s grandfather insists that a girl who is country gentry is not toplofty enough for a future earl. Meanwhile, Fred has come to town, and immediately takes exception to the time John has been spending with Maggie. And Cousin Lionel is not going to give up his chance at an earldom without a fight, so he begins to start rumors that John is illegitimate.
GENTLEMAN JIM is so skillfully written that I was continually guessing whether John was really Nicholas, as I truly hoped him to be. Also, both characters would have to give up something they valued greatly if they chose to be together – Maggie would lose her beloved estate, and John would lose the backing of his grandfather, and possibly his title. It was heartbreaking to see how Maggie had been beaten down from the joyous, brave girl she was, to the weaker version that she is today. There are multiple villains, and they are despicable. Fred is a lying bully, while Lionel is a foppish schemer. Throughout the whole story, there is the underlying question of the identity of Gentleman Jim, a legendary highwayman from years ago, and how he can possibly relate to the other characters. The developing love between Maggie and John is strong, sweet, and satisfying, as they choose to make a future together, regardless of the cost to their dreams. Mimi Matthews continues to excel at writing a beautiful and tender love story, this time adding some mystery, which makes for a captivating read. There’s also a lovely epilogue, guaranteed to bring happy sighs for a hard won happily ever after. GENTLEMAN JIM is a book that goes to my keeper shelf, as it’s one that I will want to read again and again, and I highly recommend it for all fans of historical romance. ~Rose