|Image linked from Goodreads|
Major Sir Benedict Harper nearly lost both his legs as well as his life after the Napoleonic wars. After struggling for six years to get healthy enough to live his own life, he is stymied by the fact that his younger brother already runs his estate and the brother's family is quite entrenched there. Benedict really has nothing to do and is at loose ends. Until he visits his sister who is convalescing after an illness. He nearly tramples a haughty widow and her dog when he leaps over a hedge on his horse.
Samantha McKay is escaping her house. Her husband convalesced for a long time after being injured in the war. Since his death, his sister has been keeping Samantha under a tight rein, telling her that she has to behave as befits a lady. See, Samantha has gypsy blood in her veins and her husband's family has always looked down on her as being "not quite."
But the end comes when Samantha's father-in-law wants to throw her out of the house where she's been living for so long and sends men to take her back to London. She knows that she'll be stifled there for the rest of her life and she just can't do it. So she enlists Benedict to help her get to Wales where she's been left a small cottage. The journey, of course, is a time for them to get to know one another. And when they get to Wales, there's a whole lot of Samantha's history that she is ready to discover.
This is all told in such a gentle voice. It's like floating down a slow-moving stream. You don't really need to think, just look around and enjoy the scenery. Told in alternating points-of-view, each side overlaps the other, picking up just before the last ended. After reading so many hard and fast contemporaries, this is a wonderful read and delightful palate cleanser. Can't wait for the rest of the books in the series (especially the Duke, though I assume he is being saved for last. Le sigh.)
Imagine my delight when I got to the end of the book and there were still dozens of pages left and it turned out to be the story of Julian and Phillipa, the erstwhile fiancee of Vincent from "The Arrangement." Normally, I don't like short stories but this was a sweet one of two young lovers who were star-crossed but who have worked hard for two years to find their HEAs.