The Heir (Windham Series)
In Regency England, would an earl really marry his housekeeper? That is the question posed by Grace Burrowes in her debut historical romance, The Heir. It is certainly a Cinderella-like tale when Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, refuses to marry anyone save his servant, Anna Seaton. Why the rush to the altar? Westhaven’s father, the Duke of Moreland, desperately desires an heir regardless of the mother’s pedigree. He is so blatant about his need for a grandchild that he even gets Westhaven’s mistress pregnant by another man in order to pass the child off as his son’s.
Westhaven was not meant to be the focus of his father’s fanaticism. It was not until the death of his elder brother that the spare became the heir. He loathes his new position in the family hierarchy and will do anything to escape the yoke of matrimony. He’s a free-swinging bachelor who means to keep it that way.
Enter Anna Seaton and her secrets. Is she really a war widow? Is the deaf chambermaid, Morgan, her relation? Is she in some kind of trouble? Westhaven is enraptured with the mystery that surrounds her, and he leads her, however reluctantly, down the path of seduction. As the two become more and more intimate, Westhaven’s innate caution starts to unravel. In giving himself body and soul to Anna, he might just bestow upon her his father’s greatest wish.
As a first time author, Burrowes does a great job in connecting the reader with her characters. Her portrayal of Westhaven and his brothers Val and Dev is spot on. The fraternal teasing as Westhaven falls for Anna is poignant. His brothers inwardly rejoice at his finding happiness. A book is only as good as the depth of its secondary characters and Burrowes fully rounds them out—whether it’s the touching friendship that develops between the piano virtuoso Val and the timid Morgan or the way Dev as an illegitimate son of the Duke is restrained by his secondary status.
A variety of detail is the only weak point. By the conclusion, the reader will never forget that Westhaven enjoys an ample amount of sugar in his lemonade or that Anna is forever arranging flowers throughout his London abode be it in the empty fireplaces or on a dining serving tray. At times, the romantic interludes read like a how-to lesson from the Kama Sutra. Depending on the reader, sometimes less is more in these instances.
Overall, The Heir is a great page-turning take on forbidden love.