London, 1815. At the age of nineteen, Blaine Whitmore loses everything dear to him in a brutal assault on his family line. Left with nothing, he finds himself aboard a merchant ship sailing far from home. Years pass as a boy becomes a man, and yet no amount of time or distance will help Blaine forget all that he has lost. After ten years sailing the high seas, he is finally ready to restore the Whitmore name.
Felicity Canton is as lovely as she is penniless, and has been left to care for her three sisters while attempting to maintain a crumbling estate. With no hope for escape from her predicament, she is resigned to a peasant’s fate. She never anticipates attracting the attention of her wealthy and mysterious new neighbor, nor does she expect him to be her savior.
As Blaine searches for truth and doles out vengeance, he becomes increasingly captivated and distracted by Felicity’s beauty and inner strength. Does he dare confide in her the secrets of his heart? Will his future be as bleak as his past, or will he finally have a chance at happiness?
Publisher and Release Date: Samantha Garman, September 2013
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer rating: 4 Stars
Review by Vikki
This book pulls at the heart strings from the first page. I was immediately engaged by the poignant hanging of a presumed traitor, the Earl of Grisham, while his nineteen year-old son, Blaine Whitmore witnesses the horrific scene. The writing is descriptive and the pain the young man feels is palpable.
Blaine finds his way to a seedy tavern, hoping to drown his sorrows and remove the gruesome image of his father’s death. He’s attacked by two men who were paid to see to his demise. Fortunately for Blaine, Captain Griff Hawthorne rescues him just as one of the villains brings the knife up to cut his throat. Thus begins Blaine’s life as a pirate, using the name Sebastian Grayson.
After amassing a huge fortune, Gray returns to England ten years later determined to avenge his father’s death by proving he was not a traitor. He establishes himself as a prosperous merchant and purchases an estate in Somerset where he meets Felicity Canton and her three young sisters. The ladies are on the verge of losing everything because their father has died, leaving huge gambling debts. Gray and Felicity meet at the betrothal party of a neighbour and are immediately drawn to each other.
Things get much worse when Felicity finds out the extent of her late father’s debt and is faced with the daunting task of liquidating their assets and selling their home. Felicity goes to Gray and offers to become his housekeepe, but when he finds out the true nature of Felicity’s finances, he offers her marriage instead. With no other options open to her, Felicity accepts when he offers to set up trusts for her sisters. But will the dark secrets of Gray’s past tear them apart, or will love conquer all?
This story took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions initially. The author has a smooth writing style, which keeps the pacing quick and the reader engaged in the first part of the book. But the pacing flags in the middle and I found myself struggling to get past it and on to what I believed would be a rewarding ending. I was right, and it picks up in the last third of the story, culminating with a very satisfying HEA.
I particularly enjoyed Felicity’s relationship with her three sisters and the dialogue between them is witty and vastly entertaining. I also liked the growing relationship between Gray and his new friends. The intricate relationship between Gray and Felicity is compelling as well.
Overall, Secrets of a Heart is an enjoyable read and I will consider reading future books by this author. If you enjoy a story that gives you a lovely look at the regency period with just enough history to titillate your senses, then this is a book you will not want to miss.