Alistair Waldegrave keeps his daughter imprisoned in the black heart of his Gothic abbey. As he searches for a cure to the disease the villagers call demonic, his new governess brings much needed light into their lives. But how can the passion between them survive the darkness encroaching from outside their sheltered walls?
Violet Whitechapel has had a difficult life and has finally found salvation working in an orphanage, but the new owner is about to close it. When Violet stumbles upon him attacking a young girl she sees red and steps in to stop him. Her rescue has unfortunate consequences though and Violet goes on the run as she's sure no one would believe her side of the story.
Alastair Waldegrave lives a lonely life protecting his daughter, Lilian, from those who might harm her as Lilian is unlike any other child. When Violet is discovered on the grounds of Waldegrave Abbey, he cannot believe his luck as she claims to be a governess, which is just what he needs. Violet accepts the position in the downright creepy Abbey but it's not an easy place to feel safe. Rooms are kept locked, windows always covered, and her charge, Lilian, can be a little hellion!
Alastair is determined to find a cure for his daughter's affliction but distrust and prejudice bring danger to the Abbey. The fascinating Violet sorely tempts him but he's an honourable man and has no intention of taking advantage. Violet becomes more and more involved with Alastsir and Lilian but it's impossible to forget that she's a fugitive and justice could catch up with her at anytime.
I am really undecided on this book as I liked the plot. Although, initially I couldn't stop comparing it to Jane Eyre but I did find it a little predictable. What elevated it though is the central characters. Violet is just such a strong woman. She has suffered abuse but seems determined to embrace all that life has to offer. I found her lust for Alastair a little off-putting initially though as this book is set in a time of moral propriety but luckily it's a romance that is allowed to develop slowly.
Without a doubt the star of this book is the somewhat temperamental Lilian! She's a character the author can be proud of. A little wildcat at times but it's impossible not to feel sympathy for her. She's a child imprisoned in darkness and believing herself to be unloved. Lily will quite literally bite the hand that feeds her and yet, the glimpses of her inner turmoil are truly moving. As for Alastair, he's clearly obsessed with helping his daughter (rightly), but at times he did seem somewhat given to overkill. As the story progresses he's a character that deserves happiness and love.
This story started with a bang and things progressed very quickly but then, it just seemed to slow down which felt a little odd. The descriptions of the Abbey certainly made me feel uncomfortable. It's not a place I would wish to visit but what I struggled with the most are the pages where nothing happened. I do enjoy knowing the inner most thoughts of characters but I can't help thinking a different editor might have just tightened things up a bit. It's a good long read but sometimes I wanted a little bit more action. Lightly spiced and sensual, I did enjoy reading this and look forward to more from Ms Ridley.
Kindle edition is $2.99 and the paperback is $9.09