Louisa Brockhurst is on the run-from her friends, from her family, even from her dream of independence through the Governess Club. But sometimes it's easier for her to hide from those she loves in order to escape the secrets of her past.
Handsome but menacing John Taylor is a prizefighter-turned-innkeeper who is trying to make his way in society. When Louisa shows up at his doorstep, he's quick to accept her offer to help-at a price. He knows that she's hiding something, and he can't help his protective instincts toward the beautiful woman.
Their attraction grows, but will headstrong, fiery Louisa ever trust the surprisingly kind John enough to tell him the dangerous secrets from her past that keep her running? Or will the power of her feelings scare her into running yet again?
Oh Louisa. I remarked in the last novel, "Sara", that I wasn't looking forward to Louisa's novella because she was so blunt (almost cruel) towards Sara. In truth I did want to know why Louisa was so straight forward about most things, but the very picture of evasive with her own life. Seriously look up "evasive" in a Dictionary, you'll see almost any conversation Louisa has with John in this book for certain. And while her tongue is just as sharp here as it was in Sara's story, its helpful to read the why of it.
Feeling betrayed by her friends because they found happiness, and feeling especially betrayed by Sara who she thought of them all would become a spinster and grow old with her, Louisa has been gone for about 2 months at the start of her story. She's been traveling here and there, doing this or that odd job and changing her name as often as possible. She doesn't take the apparent dissolution of her dreams very well in fact, but very quickly finds a new one at John's inn.
John meanwhile is a hulk brute of an ex-pugilist who is trying to prove that he can be more then his past brawling days. And while he's running a (very) modest inn to some satisfaction he can't quite get his head around how it could be more. In waltzes Louisa, who within two weeks of being hired on as a maid tells John how to improve things and then gets promoted to partner in the business.
I appreciated that Louisa wasn't a shrinking violet. Many of the issues I had with her advice to the others stemmed from the fact she had a very narrow idea of how things should be and should turn out. If its not a situation where you can come out on top, well don't get in the situation. Either manipulate things to your best possible outcome or its not worth it. We see her manipulate John several times, but he calls her on it. Tells her point blank he'd, well if not happily at least willingly discuss anything she'd like.
Oh and would she please consent to marry him? That would be lovely.
It was entertaining, and oddly romantic, how often John tried to convince Louisa to marry him. He was content to wait for however long she liked...as long as it happened eventually. Not today? Well that's okay, let's do the books and have a tumble and then maybe...? No? Okay well keep at it John! (His earnestness reminds me a bit of another book I read recently where the guy was gung-ho for the marriage and the woman was like 'Wait? What? No! Sexy times!')
Of course Louisa's past catches up with her and some most of the issues I had with the novella began here. Without spoiling anything, you find out why she originally fled and in all honesty I was really surprised that she had remained ignorant of the going-ons in society. [spoiler]Granted her brother helped cover up and she remained as far removed from society as possible, but it was kind of a big deal what happened and the ramifications thereof maybe should have been more discussed I think[/spoiler]. MacDonald and I spoke about this part of the story and really some of it comes down to how strongly you believe that Louisa could remain separated (practically amputated) from society to not have found out the truth.
And the Epilogue? It made sense on so many levels. It was a wonderful way to wrap up the Governess Club stories and okay I got a little teary-eyed at one point.