Captured and tortured by the French, Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, survives by vowing to take revenge on his tormentors. Before the duke can pursue his version of justice, Gillian, Countess of Greendale, reminds him that his small daughter has suffered much in his absence, and needs her papa desperately.
Gilly endured her difficult marriage by avoiding confrontation and keeping peace at any cost. Christian’s devotion to his daughter and his kindness toward Gilly give her hope that she could enjoy a future with him, for surely he of all men shares her loathing for violence in any form. Little does Gilly know, the battle for Christian’s heart is only beginning.
The countess brought Christian’s hand up, holding the back of it against the extraordinary softness of her cheek. Until he’d taken liberties with her in the library, he’d forgotten how wonderfully, startlingly soft a woman’s cheek could be. As soft as sunshine and summer rain, as soft as the quiet of the English countryside.
“Shall we sit?” he asked, though she’d likely release his hand if they sat. He was a widower, though, and she ought not to begrudge him simple human contact when he’d been so recently bereaved.
She let him lead her to a shaded bench near the roses, the morning air faintly redolent of their perfume. When Christian seated her, the countess kept his damaged hand in hers.
“I was not allowed to garden at Greendale,” she said, fingers drifting over his knuckles. “The estate had gardens, because his lordship would not be seen to neglect his acres, but I was forbidden to walk them, or to dig about in the good English soil, or to consult with the gardeners regarding the designs and plantings.”
Based on the studied casualness of her tone, this prohibition had been irksome.
“You are free to garden here all you like,” Christian said. “I ask only that you not disturb my mother’s roses.”
“They are lovely.”
“She was lovely.”
Another silence, while Christian became aware of his surroundings beyond the small hand holding his. The roses were in their early summer glory, and why Polite Society insisted on staying in Town through most of June was incomprehensible, when the alternative was the English countryside. The sunshine was a perfectly weighted beneficence on his cheek, the scent of the gardens heavenly, and the entire morning aurally gilded with the fluting chorus of songbirds.
He wanted to kiss the lady beside him again, not in thanks, not as a good-night benediction, but for the sheer pleasure of the undertaking.
I have yet to read a book from Grace Burrowes that I don’t love and THE CAPTIVE, the first in her new Captive Hearts series is certainly no exception. If you are a fan of historical romance then you should be checking out her backlist starting at the very beginning with The Heir from her Duke’s Obsession series.
As for The Captive, we have Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, who serves King & Country as an army officer over in France. Mercia is captured by French military and despite the rules of war when it comes to officers, especially titled officers, he is held captive in an old castle and cruelly tortured for about a year. Thoughts of seeing his wife, daughter and infant son when he can make it home again and his plans to eventually take revenge on his captors are all that keep him alive. And silent. The people had begun to call him The Lost Duke having heard nothing of his whereabouts for so long. He’s finally released when the war is over, but it’s been so long he had been thought dead. His heir, Marcus Easterbrook, also an officer has taken it upon himself to see to Mercia’s business in his absence. He comes home less the man he was when he left only to find tragedy has struck while he was away.
Gillian, is the Countess of Greendale, and Mercia’s duchess, Helene’s first cousin. She is recently a widow having been married to the much older and very cruel Lord Greendale since the tender of age of seventeen. She has a strong affection to Lucy, Mercia’s young daughter and sees it as her duty to go to Mercia to make him aware of his responsibilities to his child and estate in the country. Mercia may be back, but he is in no way his former self and ill-prepared for society’s expectations. He sees his opportunity in Gillian, being as she is a widowed female relative, to take upon himself to see to her protection, and obtain for himself someone to mediate and buffer for him. Someone to care for his household and help him with his daughter.
These two are so wonderful together. They suit in nearly every way, with a natural instinct for the unspoken needs and wishes of the other. The Captive is in part a heartbreaking story of two people who have lived through torment and have the scars to prove it. Both are trying to adjust to their new situation and find comfort in the simple companionship and structure of the life they begin to live while caring for young Lucy. The pace is comfortable, the tender love and respect that slowly unfolds between Gillian and Christian is sweet, and so enjoyable to read. There is also a mystery, lurking danger, and enemies both known and unknown to be dealt with.
All in all I found The Captive to be a well-written, balanced story of intrigue and danger with a beautifully told romance between a sexy Duke and courageous Countess that starts off innocent and becomes passionate when they fall in love. 4.5 stars
~Complimentary copy downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
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