Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business–or will it turn into something more?
Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life–especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero’s dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiancée and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died, and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.
When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.
Sophie is surprised to find she isn’t opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed’s elderly mother, and she’s already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she’ll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.
It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he’s come to mean to her. Now she’ll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.
The Napoleonic Wars are over, the Emperor has been exiled to the island of Elba, and all is right with the world. Except it isn’t. An injured sea captain is watching as one of his men lays dying in a naval hospital in Portugal, a man who saved his life and who will now leave a young lady grieving for the man she will never get to marry. This is a captain drowning in guilt, and feeling duty bound to visit the family of the deceased and give them the tragic news. He expects no forgiveness; he can’t forgive himself for his actions that have led to this moment.
The Indebted Earl is the third and final title in Erica Vetsch’s Serendipity and Secrets series. Both lead characters are connected to others who’ve featured in previous installments. Charles is the cousin of a pivotal, and thoroughly disreputable, character in The Lost Lieutenant, while Sophie’s brother is Marcus from The Gentleman Spy. I suppose each book could be read on its own, but it makes much more sense to read the series in order. In each book, we have a man who unexpectedly becomes a titled gentleman and who, consequently, finds himself elevated in society. Their lives are forever changed, as are those of the women they meet as a result. Readers of the previous two books in the series will welcome the mentions and appearances of familiar characters.
This is, primarily, an historical romance novel. But no romance is worth reading unless there are obstacles in the characters’ way. Communication is key and, naturally, there are times when Wyvern and Sophie do not communicate well. But Vetsch also tackles thorny issues such as inheritance laws, suicide, and forgiveness. Most of the book is set on the Devon coast and so smuggling is a key factor. Due to the Napoleonic Wars, valuable commodities such as French lace and Champagne are banned but there is still a lucrative market for them. I’ve read several novels where smuggling is acceptable, so long as it is bound by honorability. Vetsch takes the opposite view: Smuggling is wrong, and smugglers are traitors. Since Wyvern is military, this is a view that makes absolute sense.
Watch out for the three wards Wyvern inherits. In my opinion they are, by far, the best part of The Indebted Earl. Each has their own character and way of seeing the world. Darling Betsy, the youngest, is my favorite. At five, she barely remembers her parents and takes to Wyvern immediately. She believes that captains don’t receive enough hugs and sets out to change that. She is often amusingly described as wearing Wyvern’s bicorn hat, which is too big for her. I’d love to see a trilogy featuring these sisters as they grow up and enter the world.
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: 23 March 2021
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Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
Erica Vetsch’s Website https://www.ericavetsch.com/