Miss Susan Hampton was a lady born and bred. She never imagined that she would have to make her own way in the world. But that was before her feckless father gamed away the family estate. That was before her odious aunt turned her into an unpaid servant. Now Susan had fled that tyranny--only to wonder if she had leapt out of the frying pan into the fire.
In a remote country manor, Susan took the post of companion to the Dowager Lady Bushnell, whose fiery temper made a dragon seem sweet. But even more dangerous was the dowager's boldly handsome bailiff, David Wiggins, whose blood was red, not blue, and who was everything a man could be except a gentleman. Desperately, Susan told herself that he was totally unsuitable as her suitor--even as this infuriatingly irresistible man awoke her as a woman and made her forget she was a lady...
Carla Kelly is usually a hit and miss author with me but I always grab her books with some expectation. I had no idea what this book was about but I couldn't resist getting it because she usually writes about different characters. This story was no exception...
Susan Hampton is a young lady of a good family. Her father, however, is a gambler of the worst sort and has ruined his family. There is no money for Susan's dowry and eventually they have to go and live with a relative. Seeing as she will be treated has a non paid instead of a family member Susan decides to find a proper job and support herself. That is how she finds herself living in the country with the dowager duchess of Bushnell and her bailiff, Daniel Wiggings among other interesting characters.
Susan is not exactly a success at her new job. She has no experience and Lady Bushnell is a fiercely independent woman who doesn't want the companions her daughter-in-law likes to send her. As soon as they meet Susan is fired but eventually Lady Bushnell gives her another chance and Susan has to find to best way to be useful and keep her job.
What I liked most in this story was how everyone felt so real in their reactions to pain and sorrow. How Lady Bushnell was strong and wanted no pity for the tragedies that she suffered in the past, how she elicited such protective feelings from Daniel and, later, Susan and how. Daniel, bit by bit ends up telling Susan his whole story, how he was a soldier and a thief and was saved, both literally and from a life of crime, by Lady Bushnell and her family. He bears the weight of quite a few secrets and doesn't mind keeping them not to disturb an old lady. And Susan, a special king of courage is needed to break society's barriers. Susan ends up doing it twice, when she leaves her family to find employment and when she accepts Daniel's proposal, and both times she does it with her eyes open. Fully aware that there will be consequences and that she will be made to pay the price. I really couldn't help admiring all of them and loving their story!