For months now, Lady Grace Ashworth has mourned the death of her beloved husband—until the day a very-much-alive Michael arrives at her front door. It’s nothing less than a miracle. However, Grace soon realizes that this Michael isn’t the same man who left for the Crimean War. She’s stunned to learn that he has suffered a devastating head injury. Putting all her own desires aside, Grace resolves to devote herself to Michael’s recovery and to love him no matter what troubles may come.
Convinced that his wife is wasting her time on a broken man, Michael attempts to shield Grace from a life of inconvenience by driving her away. But Grace will have none of that. Despite every obstacle Michael throws in her path, she stubbornly soldiers on, fighting not only for their marriage but for the love they once shared. In the end, will her determination alone be enough to save Michael from the darkness that threatens to consume him?
“Sir Timmons is handsome and a very nice man,” Violet said quietly. “Besides, living in that drafty old dower house has to be such a hardship after living so long in the manor house.”
Clara stiffened. She despised any reference to the time when Grace lived in Blackbourne Manor. She would much prefer to pretend that Grace had never been countess at all. Grace wasn’t certain what she had done to elicit such animosity in Clara. They’d never had much in common, but they’d always been civil to each other. Until Nigel had assumed the earldom. After that, Clara’s claws had come out.
Her mother squeezed Violet’s hand, and Grace had to commend the girl for overcoming her shock to be so gracious. “The dower house is not drafty,” Clara said, all quivering indignation. “The earl is very aware that he has a responsibility to the dowager countess.” Grace closed her eyes in mortification and anger. The earl might be aware of his responsibility, but he in no way acted on it other than to get her off his hands at his earliest convenience.
“Yes, well.” Prudence clapped her hands together, and even if her smile was strained, she took control of the meeting. “It’s time we got started, or it will be close to dinner before we’re finished.”
The meeting didn’t last as long as dinnertime, and as it wound down, the ladies gathered their shawls and parasols. Clara, likely sensing that she would be the topic of conversation afterward, hung about later than usual but soon ran out of excuses and had to say her goodbyes.
Sara and Grace left the house together, and when they were standing at the street, Sara hugged Grace hard. It was all Grace could do to keep the tears that had been threatening from falling.
“I’m so sorry, Grace.” Sara pulled away and looked into Grace’s eyes. “I had no idea.”
“That makes two of us.” Grace tried to laugh but failed. “What will you do?” “I have no idea.”
“Well, you can’t marry him.” “Can’t I?” Sara reared back and stared at Grace in shock. “Tell me you aren’t seriously considering his proposal.”
“There was no proposal. There was an agreement between Nigel and Timmons. My
wishes or thoughts were not considered. According to Nigel, the deal is finished, and all that is left is the ceremony.”
“You have a choice. Talk to Sir Timmons and tell him you don’t have feelings for him.”
Grace began walking in the direction of town. Sara walked beside her and the burly footman followed as discreetly as an enormous man could.
“Tell him you’re still mourning Michael,” Sara said.
Grace could do that, and she had every right to do that, but something stopped her. Something Nigel said had been nagging at her. He’d been convinced that Grace wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her life alone, while up until that moment she had wanted to do just that. Or she’d thought she had, only because she’d never considered a second marriage. But after returning to the dower house, after visiting the manor, something had shifted inside of her.
The dower house was old and rotting and hadn’t had a dowager living in it for a few decades. Michael’s older brother had not married before his death, and their mother had died while giving birth to Nigel. For the past ten months, Grace had not minded living there. It had been the only place that held no memories of Michael, and that had been a blessing for a time. But after her short visit to the manor house, she realized she missed living in a home where the fireplaces worked and the damp didn’t seep into her bones.
How horrible was it that she was considering marrying Sir Timmons for warmth and a solid roof over her head.
“Grace, are you seriously considering this marriage?”
Grace’s hands shook so hard that she hid them in the folds of her gown. “No. Yes. I don’t know, Sara. It never occurred to me that Sir Timmons would offer for my hand, but now he has me thinking of my future.” It was more than the house. It was the loneliness that weighed her down. She wanted someone to talk to in the evening. Someone to sit with by a fire.
Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, December 23, 2014
Time and setting: Victorian England 1855
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 4 Stars
Review by Vikki
His Saving Grace is a story of overcoming great odds and coming out of it a stronger and better person.
The story opens with Grace Ashworth, Dowager Countess of Blackbourne as a widow, mourning the loss of her husband, Michael, who is presumed dead from a great battle of the Crimean War. His brother has assumed the title and has accepted a marriage proposal on Grace’s behalf from Sir Timmons. While Grace’s year of mourning is almost at an end, the last thing she wants is to marry again when she is still deeply grieving Michael’s death.
Yet she is so very lonely, that she starts to wonder if perhaps she should marry Sir Timmons. Until one day, a carriage pulls up at the dower house, and a man remarkably like Michael climbs out. At first, she does not believe it is her beloved husband, but then he shows her a small scar and she steps into his arms for the first time in almost a year.
While overjoyed to find out Michael is alive, Grace soon discovers that he has returned a changed man. Gone is the laughing warm-hearted gentleman she married. As couple tries to to pick up the strands of their life and move forward, Michael’s disability builds a wall between them. Can Grace help him learn to cope, or will he allow it to tear them apart?
The deep emotional pain that Michael experiences ate at my soul and brought tears to my eyes. His utter despair at times is palpable, although when he was at his lowest, I confess I I did get a bit irritated with him. Ultimately, he faces up to his challenges and begins to move forward, but not before he puts Grace, through a lot of pain.
While this story does have several secondary characters, it is primarily about Michael and Grace and their struggle to be together and learn to live with his disability, a disability that cannot be seen by the world. It is a disability that would torment anyone, and especially a strong, proud man such as Michael.
I love Grace’s determination and will to help Michael adapt to his changed world. She refuses to cower when he gives into his temper, anger he never displayed before his injuries. She is a true saint and never gives up on him, even when he is at his worst. She fights for their love, even when Michael attempts to send her away.
This is not an easy story to read. It’s filled with angst as Michael faces the changes his disability has caused in his personality. One thing that is never in doubt is the love they feel for each other, but this couple has to go through a lot to find their HEA.
The story line is quite unique and kept me turning the pages. Ms. Cullen does an excellent job with building tension, yet not so much that it frustrated me. The timing of the love scenes are close to perfect and highly charged with passion and deep emotion.
If you enjoy a well-written historical romance with great character development then I have no hesitation in recommending His Saving Grace.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romances The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl, and Pleasing the Pirate, as well as many novels of romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. If you’d like to find out more about the author and her books, you can visit her blog or her website. She is addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion: books.