The third book in the Rogue's Club series, published October 2003.
For richer or poorer…
Married and widowed in short order, Chastity Somers vows to claim her bridegroom’s inheritance as the long-lost St. Yves, Earl of Barrington, if only to have the means to care for his impoverished young cousins. After freeing the children from their workhouse prison, she heads for Sunnyledge. The estate will be hers to run as a children’s home if no other heir appears within three months … and if she remains above reproach.
But now she must contend with Reed Gilbride, who also believes himself the missing St. Yves. The dangerously handsome military man has the power to derail all her dreams. She prays he will not find proof of his claim … or realize the power he soon holds over her heart. If she surrenders to the passion he inspirers, will she sacrifice the children’s future … or find the key to her own?
Charity used to be a nun in France, until she married an English doctor, who was returning home to right an old wrong. She has always longed for love and touch and children, and now is her chance. Only William dies two days later, leaving her a widow. Arriving at his sister’s home, she finds her deceased as well, with four young children hiding in the cellar. She decides to take them for her self, and raise them. She wants to start a children’s home. Unfortunately, when she doesn’t accept the lecherous attentions from the local church man, the children are taken from her and put into a workhouse. Seeing firsthand by working there, the dismal conditions the children have to live in, the decision is made quickly. She breaks in at night, and steals them back.
Now they just have to find the lawyer who has been managing the Barrington estate ever since the last Earl died almost thirty years ago. If she can stake a claim on it on behalf of her late husband, she can raise the children and perhaps save some more. But then there is Reed Gilbride, who got the same letter claiming he is the lost heir. He hates children so what are they doing under his roof? After some discussions with Charity, he accepts the position of handyman, to do some repairs in the house, and start a garden. Which will also give him the opportunity to search the house for proof of his birth.
Charity has a big heart and really loves the children, but she has no idea how to take care of them. She cannot cook, and knows nothing about farming. Reed knows way to much about those things, and though he hoped he never would have to do that again, he teaches her and the children.
Reed lusts after Charity, until he finds out she is a nun! Which she lets him believe to be safe from her own feelings for him. Reeds gets used to the children pretty fast, especially little Bekah, who doesn’t talk anymore.
But there is someone evil around as well. The person who wrote the notes in the first place, telling two different men they are the missing heir. What happened all those years ago? Reed and Chastity slowly unravel the past, but danger keeps coming as well. Someone is trying to kill Reed. Will they found out who and why in time?
It took me over half a year to finish this book, but I was determined to do it. Annette Blair is one of my favourite authors, I love her witches books and other contemporary’s. I just have a problem getting into her historicals. So I read a few pages here and there, until I got to the point the book caught me. And now it is finished, and it really is not a bad story at all. I do understand why most authors use different names for each genre they create. The writing style is just so less fluent and humoristic than in her other books.
The four children are really unique little persons, each with their own quirks and personalities. That Reed falls for them, and for Chastity is totally believable. And Chastity, who would not fall for a handsome, grumbling rogue, who does his best to help her care for her charges? Even when at first he thinks the children should be with the missionaries in London until their parents are found. He soon wants some of the love she has for the children for his own. When he finds out she is not a nun, he is furious, and tries to take advantage of that fact, but he just can’t hurt her. Chastity has to want him too.
A lot happens in this story, which I am not telling you. Happy things which made me laugh, and also some sad things that made me cry along with Chastity. Two lost souls searching for a place to call home and someone to love, even though Reed does not accept that at first. And in the end, they still cannot marry, because under English law, a man cannot marry his sister-in-law …
This is the third book in a series, and I never read the first two, but it can be read as a stand alone. The other rogues are mentioned, and appear in the epilogue, but their own stories are not relevant to this book.