Publication Date: March 23, 2021
About the Author: Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner, and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota. Learn more about Erica at http://www.ericavetsch.com.
Captain Charles Wyvern is haunted by the ghost of his subordinate, Major Richardson, the man who saved his life and was mortally wounded while doing it. Duty compels Charles to deliver the news to Rich’s fiancée Sophie a lady he has had the privilege of coming to know by reading her letters aloud to the dying Major. Upon his arrival in London, he discovers (in true Erica Vetsch fashion) that due to the death of a distant relative, he is now the Earl of Rothwell. The title comes with its own burdens, including a manor house with retainers and three orphan girls who need his care. Obsessed with his own desire to return to the sea, Charles initially refuses to embrace his new role, searching only for a way out of this imbroglio and a way back onto the ocean.
Despite her sadness, Sophie’s fondness for Rich and her sense of kindness and duty lead her to continue caring for Rich’s mother “Mamie,” whose wits are beginning to wander. When she accepts Charles’ offer to escort them to a seaside resort, she realizes the pickle in which Charles has been placed. Sophie cannot help taking the orphan girls under her wing, and when Charles proposes a business arrangement disguised as a marriage, Sophie agrees to it.
Rich’s ghost and Charles’ own seafaring ambitions seem to stand in the way of any true romance, but events conspire to force the new couple to grow closer together. When Charles begins to uncover some nefarious dealings on the Rothwell estate, he himself is accused of smuggling and thrown in jail. Sophie must find a way to save her husband from false accusations and perhaps change this marriage of convenience into something more lasting.
This novel rounds out the Serendipity and Secrets series, with Sophie being the determined sister of Marcus Haverley, the gentleman spy from the previous book. It explores a second chance at love as Sophie grieves the death of one man and gradually has her heart healed and transformed to love another. Charles was not my favorite hero, and I found him irritating through most of the book. Both his continual guilt over Rich’s death and his determination to abandon Sophie after their marriage grated on me. Despite this, it was fun to see the finale of the character arcs in the series, and for those who enjoy a fanciful Regency romance with tropes galore, this book will fit the bill nicely.