England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?
A WORLD-WEARY RAKE
After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans—and threatens his heart.
A PRIM VICAR’S DAUGHTER
Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future—a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.
A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL
A friendship is impossible. An affair is out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?
Let me start by saying what an unbelievably great book, it is rich and emotional and for me definitely what I have now come to expect from Ms Matthews. The Viscount and the Vicars daughter is very different from other historical romances it does go along the lines of marriage of convenience but the difference if that Tristan genuinely does love Valentine very much, and he wants to do what is right by her – after what happened, even with so much going against them not just society and his father and his lack of funds after his after cuts him off but also his black reputation. To see his transformation from the cynical and harsh rake to the loving and protective man right before your eyes is refreshing and appealing and hugely enjoyable.
The story opens as Tristan Sinclair; Viscount St Ashton is making his way to the Fairbanks house party, which is a notoriously scandalous event that only the blackest of reputations from society attend. He isn’t attending because he want’s to, he’s there because he has been summoned by his father; the Earl of Lynden who figures this is the best chance to have ‘the chat’ with his wayward son and heir. Tristan cannot think of any thing worse than having to listen to his father lectures about him settling down and stopping his rakish behaviour, or maybe his sire will do what he is always threatening and cut him off? Anyway, while trying to waste time before he must face his father’s wrath he stumbles across a woman in the woods, a chance meeting that will change his life forever.
“….But kissing you…” His expression warmed. “Valentine, I wanted to kiss you in the folly— when I was wet, irritable, and cold sober.” He paused. “I want to kiss you now.”
After the death of her father, vicars daughter Valentine March has had no choice but to go into service she is the companion of the most selfish and manipulative women ever, really tis woman and her daughter are horrendous they are so selfish and vain that they have their staff especially the woman dress in the same uniform of spectacles and black sack of a dress just so that they don’t over shadow precious felicity – really that would be the end of the world – she is upset after spoilt Felicity Brightwell has more or less destroyed the only thing she had of her late mother, the nasty little madam in a fit of temper had burnt Valentines’ mothers bible. It is while in the woods at her lowest that she meets the most handsome man that she has ever met – a meeting that will stay with her for the rest of her life.
From that one chance meeting in the woods both their lives turn up-side-down forever, as on the first night of the house party Tristan is told in no uncertain terms that is has to either do his duty and move to their ancestral estate in Northumberland or he be cut off starting with immediate effect and Valentine goes back to her job as companion/slave to Lady Brightwell, but both have of them have been affected by their chance meeting. Valentine as much as she distrusts the rakish and sinful Tristan she cannot get the sinner out of her mind, for a few moment’s he wasn’t the scoundrel that everyone thought his to be but he was kind and caring and so different to what she expected the Lord of St. Ashton to be. Tristen has met his fair share of women and every one of them have fallen to their knees at his charm, and yet the prim and virtuous Valentine March is so different she isn’t at all what usually takes his attention yet all he can do is think about her. For the first time in his life he is concerned for someone else bar himself, his protective instincts are on high alert whenever she is around, especially being at this scandalous and debaucherously sinful party.
“You’re slipping away from me. I can see it. I can feel it happening, but I don’t know how in the devil I’m supposed to stop it.”
“I’m not slipping away from anyone. I’m right here.”
Tristan can’t seem to help himself, but he wants to help her, when he returns some items to her that she left in the woods after they had met, they share a moment which turns into something more only for them to be discovered by the whole house. Valentine is dismissed from her post as companion and Tristan knows that there is only one way for this scandal to disappear – him and Valentine must marry!
Let us just say that valentine is shocked by this turn of events, after her own nearly scandalous episode in her past she has become weary and cynical of all men – especially those silver-tongued charmer’s such as the Viscount, but this one moment of pure joy has been her downfall and if she doesn’t accept his proposal she may become destitute. Tristan even though he had no intention of marrying yet again can not explain his addiction to this woman, she sets him on fire whenever she is close. He finds that in that moment when they are both backed into a corner he can’t think of anything better than marrying her, he wants her, and Tristan will do anything in his power to have her.
Everyone, which is including Tristan’s father; the Earl is adamant that Valentine will be ruined because Tristan is the worst rake ever, he is known to never keep his promises and that he is too wild to ever settle down – especially with the likes of a lowly vicar’s daughter with a secretive past. The moment that they become engaged you are willing them on, you are wanting them to finally find the happiness that they both deserve. I felt so very sorry for Tristan because of his wild youth he has been stuck with this label that he can’t seem to ditch. I really do like Tristan, he is a powerful force, not just the fact that he is a Viscount that has nothing to do with it, he is charismatic, dynamic with a very well hidden and very rarely seen good heart and any woman that he sets those genuine smiles on are exceedingly privileged because they are rare and beautiful.
“I’ve put my faith in you, sir. And I have precious little faith left to spare. Don’t you dare let me down, Tristan. Don’t you dare break my heart.” Tristan stared down at her, stunned.
“Do I have your heart, Valentine?” Her mouth trembled.
“I’m very much afraid that you do.
The relationship between Valentine and Tristan is honest and pure, he never lies or misuses her, he is kind, unlike his reputation he acts like the true gentleman around her something which has very rarely happened to Valentine. She has never been treated as though she is special or like a proper lady before in her life, in all honesty when her mother died her father the vicar was very harsh with his grieving daughter and so she hasn’t experienced true kindness so obviously she is suspicious of Tristan’s motives. I love how from the moment of meeting Valentine, Tristen knows that this woman is exceptionally special and that she is just what is fractured and blackened heart needs – he knows she is the one immediately, he doesn’t fight how he feels for her the biggest obstacle in their way is her independent and cynical nature.
The Brightwell’s are the most horrid and spiteful women you have ever met, as much as Lady Brightwell irritated the hell out of me with her constant simpering and ‘poor me’ routine the crown for the most self-centred, manipulative and spiteful woman must go to her daughter; Felicity – who being the jewel in the aristocracy’s crown but, she is as unpleasant as you can get. I view her as more of an acid tongued viper, just waiting to strike and I think that Matthews has got their character’s and personalities just spot on, they are both awful self-centred women, yet they have such a prominent role in the book and without them Valentine and Tristan wouldn’t be the adorable couple that we come to know.
I do really like this one, as we have come to expect from Ms Matthews we are transported the fascinating Victorian era, and I do really like this era it is full of promise of what is to come and also darkness of what is happening and amongst the grim reality we have wonderful stories like this one. The Viscount and the Vicars Daughter is hugely romantic, fabulously written and researched, it teases the senses and makes you wonder and surprisingly all the romance comes from Tristan. He surprises you as you get to know him throughout the book, the change in him from his black rakish reputation to the man he becomes is beautifully composed.
This is very much recommended, if you like the marriage of convenience with a light twist and transformed rakes and cynical, shy heroines this is the book for you – even if you don’t like all that, this is still a must read.
This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Viscount and the Vicars daughter is out 23rd January 2018 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.