It is only fitting that I return to my blog with a book by one of my all-time favorite authors! Happy Book Birthday, Christi!
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I have been waiting for Gertrude's story ever since I met her character and saw so much of myself in her! I loved how quiet her character was, how she snuck into the reader's heart gradually over the course of the first three books in the series. Once I heard she was getting her own book, and who she was going to be paired with, I knew this would end up being my favorite of the bunch! A gruff, "mad" hero and an underestimated, bookish heroine? Sign me up!
Gertrude Killoran has always been the sibling in the shadows. Partially blind after being beaten by her father as a young girl, she was given the task of raising the children rather than being in danger out on the streets, and her siblings have always perceived her as the weakest of the bunch. When her adopted brother, Stephen, is summoned to live with his natural father, Edwin, the rumored-to-be-mad Marquess of Maddock, Gertrude can't bear leaving him to fend for himself. She cuts a deal with the Marquess - she will serve as Stephen's governess for two weeks while his father searches for a more suitable candidate. In the meantime, she will stay out of his way and keep Stephen contained. But the best laid plans never always remain that way, and soon Gertrude and Edwin are finding themselves in each other's company often. As they learn more about each other, they realize that things are not always as they appear. Grief can often appear as madness, and a person's family does not always define them.
I'll start out by saying the humor in this book was fantastic! Yes, there was a lot of dark moments and sad elements, but I loved how the author brought in the natural comedy that comes when someone becomes a parent for the first time (or in this case, reunites many years later and has no clue how to handle an older child). The reasoning behind the separation of Edwin and Stephen was horrible, and having read the previous books, I have felt so much sympathy for the situation. But once I began to see the truth behind Edwin's actions and heard his memories of Stephen as a toddler, my heart broke for him. I was rooting for him and Gertrude so early on, and I knew that Gertrude was the perfect person to help him see the truth and help him climb out of the hole he had dug in his grief. Gertrude was a strong person who was seriously underestimated by everyone around her. When I saw her come out of her shell in order to help Edwin and Stephen, I was cheering for her out loud! Laughter is often the best medicine, and I could see that each time Gertrude made Edwin smile. And Stephen! That boy was hysterical towards the end of the book. Some of my favorite lines were his commentary of the relationship between Gertrude and Edwin.
As always, Christi Caldwell has written a incredibly deep, powerfully moving book that will stay with me for a long time. I can't wait to see what she writes next!
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**